I have been making my way through the book of Ezekiel of late and came upon a series of instructions about offerings. It made me think more about offerings, pondering why God seems so insistent about them.
Theologians would be quick to point out that offerings served to ‘atone,’ or ‘to pay for,’ (at least temporarily), the sins of the offer-er and/or their tribe or nation.
True that. However, I wonder if there is even more to it than that. If you think about it, to ‘offer’ is to ‘give up,’ to ‘ release,’ to ‘refuse to hoard/hold onto,’ that to which would one might otherwise look for promotion, provision or security.
In short, to ‘offer’ is: To willingly release a portion of one’s own resources in order to more deliberately entrust oneself to God. To ‘offer’ is to voluntarily rely upon ourselves a little less in order to rely upon God a little more.
It’s a way of saying to God: ‘’You are trustworthy.’ (or at least, I’d like to find out for myself!?)
Think about it: Being deemed ‘trustworthy’ may be the greatest compliment we can give to another….and to God. It feels very good to be trusted…and it hurts very badly to be treated with suspicion.
It seems to me that resources come in many shapes and sizes. The most common resource that springs to mind for most Americans, is ‘money.’
While releasing a portion of our income, rather than hoarding it, is essential for spiritual health, (see Richard Foster’s book ‘Money, Sex & Power’) it’s not the only offering available. Offerings can take other forms because resources, after all, come in many forms.
Here’s a resource but is everywhere present but is generally overlooked: ‘Words’
It’s a resource that is hoarded and wielded by almost all of us.
Well, not words per se, but self-promoting words. Self-centered words. Self-enhancing words. Posturing words. Words designed to impress, promote, curry favor or conquer. Words that, when hoarded and wielded with skill, will insure one’s economic, social, civic or even religious advantage.
Words: A resource that is habitually hoarded and wielded by, and for, us because, after all, God cannot be trusted with our career, our status, our reputation or our security. Hoard and wield, we must, right?
Wrong. At least, not if we want to learn to rely upon, and experience, God.
So, the next time we find ourselves at an office gathering or a neighborhood picnic or at the YMCA or at a professional conference in which everyone is hoarding and wielding words in service to self, try letting go, offering up, try remaining silent or better yet, promoting another with our words……as an way of saying to God, ‘ You can be trusted.’
It won't be easy. Holy things never are. However, it will be worth it.
Rather, he (Jesus) made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. -Philippians 2:7-9