I have two words for you today. Love offering. I'd like to explore the meaning of that phrase--not just those two words separately, but what those two words mean when they're put together.
First of all, I apologize if, being Southern Baptist, I'm talking about a phrase some of you may not recognize. Perhaps in your church you use a different name for it.
In my church I have always been led to believe that a love offering is something that is given in secret through the church to someone else in the church who is in financial need. That's supposed to be secret. I mean, as in--you never tell that person you gave that money to them, and no one else is supposed to tell them, either. It's a gift of love, of compassion, something from the heart that only God--and a trusted person from the church--ever sees coming from your hand. Then when the giver arrives in heaven, God Himself will reward the giver openly.
I've seen so many people crave praise from the masses and never consider the passages in the Bible that tell us to give in secret. To me, that's what a love offering is all about. Give privately, in secret, without expectation of praise or recognition or repayment of any kind. Do good to others NOT so they will return that goodness, but simply for the joy of doing good. Let God do the rewarding later, when it will mean so much more than any praise here on earth. Don't keep score. Let God keep score.
Am I preaching today? Hmm. Maybe a little. Because this is the season for gift giving, and often there are so many hidden meanings hidden inside the gifts given. Some people give expensive gifts out of pure love, while others give the largest gifts in order to seek approval from the receiver. Others go into debt to give gifts because they feel they have to keep up with the other set of grandparents or friends. Perhaps giving a gift, for some, is simply seeking love instead of sharing it.
I remember many years ago a man in a former church went blind. Another member, out of love for that man, purchased a Bible on audio tape and trusted another member to pass it on to the blind man, making the member promise to never tell who it came from. Unfortunately, the compassionate member chose the wrong person to keep the secret, and the blind man found out who gave him the gift. He told everyone in the church, and everyone in the church praised this compassionate member who had wanted to badly to remain anonymous. Some of the joy was taken from the giving member.
A love offering is not a loan. It isn't a loud, magnanimous act for public display. In my opinion it's meant to be an act of simple love, spoken privately into your ear by God. It isn't a way to hold sway over the person who receives the gift because, remember, that person should never know who has given the gift. You know why? Because that money was never ours to begin with. It all belongs to God. When God speaks to us and tells us to give a love offering to another church member--a brother or sister in Christ, or a family in need--God is directing you, His steward, where to deliver a portion of His money. So let go of something that belongs to God in the first place. Don't expect it to return to you. Then someday when you're facing God in heaven, you may hear Him say to you, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Some of us are gifted with the spiritual gift of giving. Others have different gifts. I'm curious about how easy it is for those of you gifted with the gift of giving to keep that giving secret even from the recipient. If you haven't done that yet, I urge you to try it this year, and see what a reward you will have simply with the act of anonymous giving.
Labels: Giving, keeping secrets, love offerings, secrets