The real purpose of giving
"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."
"Hear. O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me." Psalm 50: 7-8 (NRSV)
"If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and keep your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50: 12-15 (NRSV)
The practice of offering animals as sacrifices was a common ritual both in Old Testament worship and the early Christian church. Although we have not continued this practice, an important part of our worship service does consist of giving our tithes or offerings. The psalmist indicates that God does not scorn such practices but He does decry the spirit in which they are sometimes given and He is more concerned as to why they are given rather than the amount or content.
The psalmist's words prompted me to consider why we present our offerings. Do we expect that they will appease Him or prompt some type of favor? Have we let the practices of the market place enter our spiritual realm and do they contain a hidden message to our deity: "If You do this, I will do this"? Does God really have a need for our offerings? Doesn't everything belong to Him? So what is the purpose of our offerings?
The essence seems to be is that our offerings should not be designed to bind God to us but rather they are an acknowledgement of our dependence on Him. Hence, our gifts are a public confession of our debt to God. The psalmist's insightfully observes that sacrifices, which bind the worshiper to God, are valid, but those, which attempt to bind the deity to the worshiper, are not! This truth is easily forgotten. We need to keep in mind that God's kingdom does not depend on what we do for God, rather it depends solely upon what God has done and is doing for us, and that He continues to work through us to remind us of this truth. Amen