Ezra 2: Free will offering

 Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site.” Ezra 2:68

I have read this phrase, “free will offering”, and have often wondered what this is all about. Lets look at a quick definition of what it means:

“A term applied to gifts presented out of the benevolence or religious impulse of heart of the giver, and not in fulfillment of any obligation, promise, or vow.” Jewish Encyclopedia

After reading this I thought of the “free will” part of it. CHOOSING. It is our choice to choose to do this. Are we compelled by the spirit? Maybe. Is it out of the emotion we feel during a time of blessing so we choose to give? Maybe. Needless to say, it is going above and beyond what is expected. I don’t think God forces us to give an offering to Him but, it is our CHOICE to do so.

How often are we MOVED to give above and beyond what we do? It doesn’t necessarily mean just in financial giving but, of ourselves as well. Perhaps of our things. I am reminded of the early church. They didn’t just give to support those for temporary needs but they gave above and beyond. Some selling everything they had to meet the long term needs.

I think a big problem many western Christians deal with IS giving. We live in a society were we always want a hand out…or just a hand up(?) We do not always think of others. Our society is “take care of yourself” “satisfy your selfish needs” “if you are not happy…”. It never or hardly ever teaches others to help people. Not like they did in the early church. And often times, when we give we expect something back. Or a tax return.

Just the other day I seen an ad saying that a coffee shop would offer free drinks if you “show kindness” to another person. How sad. We have to be bribed to be kind. I guess it is their sad attempt at “teaching” people how to think of others.

Giving can be difficult when we feel, we have nothing to give. Often I wanted to give extra, above my tithe, but because of my lack of budgeting and over spending(selfishness) I was not able to give. How many people could have been reached if I had not been so stingy and selfish? I didn’t need another dress or another pair of flip flops.

This is how our society thinks though-“Satisfy our fleshly needs(wants)” Then when we hear the Holy Spirit nudging us to give we cling tightly to our purse/wallet. “God I cant…the bills”

If we cant give, with the little that we have, how can we give above and beyond? I think this goes back to wisdom, budgeting, discipline and thinking of others. If we think first with our spirit man we will not be so selfish to go out and waste….or splurge…on things we really don’t need.

Is it wrong to want things? If it becomes so much of an idol in your life…the “I have to have this or else” then, yes it is wrong. It is okay to want things. If you have the means to go out and get it, then I think it is okay. But, again we have to be wise. If we do not have the funds then do not get it. Which this goes into disciplining ourselves and budgeting. I think it is okay to save but, here too, we shouldn’t keep so much to ourselves. What will it do in the end? It will all burn up. Maybe you have extra because God wants to use you to help support a ministry financially. Or maybe you have extra material things because it can be used to help someone who needs that particular thing.

Going back to the Free-Will Offering, how can we give if we horde? How can we give if we have nothing to give? I know some of us might remember this…

 

Deuteronomy 15:10 – “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”

Deuteronomy 16:17 – “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”

Proverbs 21:26 – “The righteous gives and does not hold back.”

Proverbs 22:9 – “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.”

Proverbs 28:27 – “He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.”

Malachi 3:10 – “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'”

Matthew 6:3-4 – “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Mark 12:41-44 – “And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.'”

Luke 3:11 – “And he would answer and say to them, ‘The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.'”

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

 

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