Giving to special offerings beyond giving tithes matters. Biblical, generous giving appears in both the Old and New Testaments. A tithe describes a believer’s responsibility to give 10% of his or her income to his or her local church. Offerings, on the other hand, are a free-will opportunity. Every saint should tithe. Though offerings are not required, Paul encourages that kind of giving, too.
Paul tells a story in 2 Corinthians 8-9 about needs and givers. He is not talking about tithes, but about generous, free-will giving by believers. In that case, the offering was benevolence.
Some Jerusalem saints were facing hardships. Paul does not list all of their woes, but they needed help from other saints. Paul, Timothy, and Titus launched a plan to enlist saints in other places to give toward the unnamed offering. Scripture tells about them gathering a monetary collection from churches in Macedonia and Greece.
The team of traveling ministers seems to have taken a two-phase approach. They first introduced the need and offering and encouraged giving. Then, they returned to collect the offering some time later. Paul and Timothy appear to have been the collection team. Paul encouraged believers to prepare for giving to the offering before he and Timothy arrived.
The church in Corinth was among the first churches engaged. Their involvement inspired others to participate. When the time for their offering collection drew near, Paul wrote, encouraging them to finish well the work of giving that they had started. In fact, they had started a movement.
Here are some facts. The collection had a clear, specific goal. The Macedonians’ and Corinthians’ offerings aimed to fully supply the Jerusalem saints’ needs. They intended to cover the whole need, not just a portion of it.
The Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering is similar. It has clear, specific goals. It aims to supply the full need for all of the causes listed among its allocations. But, do New Mexico Baptists intend to cover the whole need, like the Macedonians and Corinthians intended to do?
The Macedonian and Corinthian collections were also elective. They were given freely, joyfully and intentionally. The amount people gave was self-determined. At every moment, their participation was optional. Their voluntary participation increased their gifts’ value and significance.
The collection was also generous. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to make sure they were generous because the Macedonians had already given sacrificially. In the Old Testament, when God’s people gave gifts for the construction of the Tabernacle, they gave more than enough. They were generous toward the need.
From God’s perspective (2 Corinthians 8:7), right giving is just as important as living right in several other spiritual areas. Paul lists the areas of faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness and love. In the same way that the Corinthians excelled in those things, he said, they should excel in giving free-will offerings, too.
What came from the offerings about which Paul wrote? Among the earthly outcomes, the offering fulfilled tangible needs. The offering also confirmed the reputation of the Corinthians. Among the spiritual outcomes, the offering influenced believers’ prayer conversations with God. The recipients thanked God, interceded for others and glorified God.
What could be the outcome of New Mexico Baptists’ giving to the Mission New Mexico offering? Just consider the area of hunger needs. In 2018, New Mexico Baptists provided over 300,000 meals for hungry people. That was an earthly outcome. But, among meeting physical needs, something spiritual happened, too. Volunteers also engaged hungry people in spiritual conversations. They shared the Gospel. In fact, the number of spiritual conversations enabled by Mission New Mexico giving equaled sharing the Gospel personally with every single resident in Clovis, Portales and Las Cruces - every single resident.
Of course, participation in such offerings is voluntary. That is the meaning of free-will. So, you and I could choose not to be part of something like that. Or, we could be generous.