On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 69: Acceptable Offering? (Part 2)
Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded. Take from among you an offering to the LORD; whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord's offering…” (Exodus 35: 4-5)
God had commanded Moses to build a tabernacle (tent-church) in the wilderness for Him. God had laid out all the plans: the size, the contents, everything the tabernacle would need. He laid out the plan and called on Moses to simply get it done.
The plan of Moses in the wilderness to raise what was needed to build the tabernacle was highly successful. There was no pressure put on the people of Israel. Moses made no grand banquet. He did not invite to people to a dance or a festival or any other kind of pleasurable event. Nor did Moses use a lottery or raffle to obtain the means he needed to accomplish God’s plan. Very simply, God commanded Moses to tell the people to bring offerings. Moses was to accept every gift brought to him willingly from the heart. These freewill offerings came in such an abundance, Moses had to put a stop to it: “They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the able men who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, ‘The people bring much more than enough for doing the work which the Lord has commanded us to do.’ So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, ‘Let neither man nor woman do anything more for the offering for the sanctuary.’ So the people were restrained from bringing; for the stuff they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more” (Exodus 36:4-7 RSV).
In fact, the amount of offering that came in far exceeded the need. Here are people who have fled from their homes in Egypt. They own only what they can carry or have carried for them by their animals. They are years wandering in the desert. But when the call came to make their offering to God and His place of worship, the offerings came in far in abundance.
We find no mention in Scripture or the traditions of Holy Church that anything other than freewill offerings made from the heart and for the direct need of the church and with no promise of return are acceptable to God.
Our personal culture today is a culture of self-centeredness and pleasure. Our society’s culture is one of entertainment, monetary gain, and “what’s in it for me?” Devising all sorts of means to fund our churches that are not based on the love for God and for all God has done for us push the limits of acceptability.
(To be continued)
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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