Sabbath School Lesson for January 21-27, 2023

Overview for Lesson 4, Offerings for Jesus

Memory Verse: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people.” Psalm 116:12-14 NKJV

This week we will explore these topics:

  • Sunday: Why should we give offerings?
  • Monday: How much should we give?
  • Tuesday: How should we give?
  • Wednesday: How does God see our offerings?
  • Thursday: What is sacrificial giving?

The question in our memory text implies that we can never out-give God. But it is important that we give something in order to express our thankfulness for all God has done, is doing, and will do for us.

When we return God’s tithe, He has promised to bless the 90% remaining income we accumulate through Him. By giving to God’s work as large a portion as we can spare, we not only grow our faith, but our love to God and to others, which directly connects our giving with keeping God’s commandments (Luke 10:27).

Besides the tithe, there were many kinds of offerings mentioned in the Old Testament. Sin offerings, for instance, were a way to thank God for His forgiveness and mercy. Thank offerings were an expression of love that recognized God’s many other blessings, such as His protection, our health, and any prosperity we may enjoy, including spiritual blessings, such as joy and peace.

As we will see in our lesson this week, our giving is part of our worship to God. It is a major way to praise Him for all He has done for us. Without it, much of our faith and love would not only stop growing, but would diminish with each overlooked opportunity to give.

Sunday: Motivation for Giving

The tithe is primarily an expression of our faith in God. But, as we cheerfully give anything above one-tenth of what we have, we are expressing our love and gratitude to God in a pronounced, singular way. It’s easy to say we love God; but our gifts, no matter what they are, show God and the world that we truly are grateful to Him and are trying to be like Him by our thoughtful, loving gifts to others.

Our giving must be a response to the supreme gift of God, His own dear Son. Our offerings, whether monetary or volunteering our time, are evidence that we appreciate His gift. This should be the only motivation for our giving.

There are some, perhaps many, who give as a duty or to be praised by men. But only when we give our best in order to praise God, will our gifts be acceptable to Him. The desired result will be to increase our love, not our pride. What motivation we have is totally our choice.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Matthew 6:31-34 and 2 Corinthians 9:6, 7

  • How does our giving show that we are “making God first”?
  • Is the promise that God will take care of us the only reason to give? If not, why, and what should be our reason for giving?

Monday: What Portion for Offerings?

In deciding how much to give to God, these verses should be kept in mind:

  1. Deuteronomy 16:17–give as you are able, as the Lord has blessed you
  2. Luke 12:48–God requires that we give according to how much we are blessed

In looking at all the ways God has blessed us, it becomes clear that we will never be able to match His gifts. All we can do is be generous with our means. As Matthew 10:8 says, “Freely you have received, freely give.”

When we follow these principles, our character will be molded to match that of our loving Lord and Friend, Jesus Christ. Our gifts, whether large or small, advance the cause of God and show our concern for others less fortunate. Instead of being more and more selfish, we can grow our love for God and man through our gifts. This alone should make us as generous as possible with our offerings.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Psalm 116:12

  • Why is it helpful to consider God’s gifts to us before determining the amount of our offering?

Deuteronomy 16:17

  • How does this principle remind us that it isn’t the amount of the offering that counts with God?

Tuesday: Offerings and Worship

A time for tithes and offerings are included in most weekly worship services today. Along with prayer, music, and teaching/preaching God’s word, our giving is considered part of the worship experience. We praise God by sharing our resources with Him and others less fortunate. It demonstrates our faith, love, and gratitude for all God has done for us.

Some may wonder if online giving expresses the same feelings of praise and worship as when we do it in a more public way during the church service. But, just as we can worship God at home, through Bible study, praying, and singing all during the week, perhaps our worship through giving can occur any time, anywhere, as well.

However we return our tithes and offerings, it can be a part of our worship to God, the Creator and Owner of everything we possess.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Deuteronomy 16:16

  • What does it mean to come before the Lord “emptyhanded”?
  • Why do we not have the option of not giving at all?

1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 96:8, 9, and Psalm 116:16-18

  • Why is giving so important to us and to God? What does it do for our relationship with Him and others?

Wednesday: God Takes Note of Our Offerings

Mark 12:41-44 gives us a glimpse of how God feels about our offerings. Jesus observed two kinds of givers in the temple one day. The rich tended to put much money into the temple treasury, but the widow who gave only two mites, which was all she had, merited Jesus’ attention and approval. This testimony confirms that God is more interested in the motivation than the amount of our gifts.

Each of us should examine our hearts before giving anything to God. He is far more interested in what’s in our hearts than what leaves our pocketbooks and wallets. The most valuable offerings are the ones that come from the most loving, grateful hearts. We don’t have to give all our money, but we do have to give God all our heart.

The story of the widow’s meager gift that day has been told innumerable times, motivating thousands of God’s people to increase their praise-filled gifts. Her story has done more to advance God’s work than she or any of us ever could have imagined.

Another giver that God noticed was Cornelius, the Roman soldier who helped Peter understand his strange dream about a sheet of animals coming down from the sky. Cornelius was commended by God for his prayers and giving (Acts 10:4). His prayers showed that he loved God, and his alms (gifts) indicated that he loved his neighbor as well.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Mark 12:41-44 and 1 Corinthians 13:3

  • What is God looking for, when we give any amount of time or money to Him?

Acts 10:1-4 and Luke 10:27

  • How did Cornelius show that he was keeping God’s commandments?

Thursday: Special Projects: “Big Jar” Giving

When we think about the 90% left over after we return God’s holy tithe, we don’t always think about the big picture of all we’ve been given. It’s been estimated that only 9% of our assets consist of cash and bank accounts, those things called liquid assets, funds that are most available to spend. A much larger amount would be in the form of houses, real estate, a business, and other assets that make up our worth.

The Bible relates several stories of people who gave sacrificially from those larger assets. The Christians of the early church following Christ’s death, for example, felt the need to dig deep into their “big jar” of savings by selling their lands and homes to help their persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith. See Acts 4:34, 35.

Even earlier, the story of Mary’s gift of costly spikenard to anoint Jesus at the home of Simon was an example of this kind of sacrificial, or “big jar” giving. Her gift was worth a whole year’s wages, quite a sacrifice to make for her Lord.

Barnabas, a fellow evangelist with Paul, was also one of those sacrificial givers. Acts 4:36, 37 tells how he sold his land in order to help the work of the apostles.

The expression that we should give till it hurts might be a good rule to follow as we consider how much we have to offer God. There are many special projects the church funds that we can help, if we pray about how much and where to direct our offerings.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Mark 14:3-9 and Acts 4:36, 37

  • What does Jesus value most about our offerings to Him?

Matthew 6:21 and 19:21

  • What exactly are treasures in heaven and how do we get them?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Offerings are an essential element of our Christian growth. Our giving encourages and reminds us to love others more. In addition, it expresses our gratitude and the level of our commitment to God. This embodies the whole purpose of the Ten Commandments, which are to teach us how to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.

Let’s remember the example of Cornelius by combining prayer with our gifts. Prayer before giving is just as important as praying and thanking God as we give. The Holy Spirit is eager to help us decide how much and where to direct our offerings.

We naturally desire our gifts of both money and time to be of most value to Him, but even if they are inadvertently mismanaged or misapplied, God will honor the dedication and heartfelt love that accompany our gifts.

Next Week: Dealing With Debt

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