Commonly-heard Objections to Scriptural Commands to Give
I could hear the objections in my head already, when I started writing about giving in that first article – some were lazy arguments or just plain-not-true:
- “I can’t afford to give.”
- “Once, I get (fill-in-the-blank) paid off then I can really start to give.”
- “God would really rather me invest in my business so that once I start to turn a profit, I could really afford to give quite a lot.”
- “We all need cell phones; we need cable, and internet, and a second car, and…”
Errant Use of Scripture to Combat God’s Command to Give
Other arguments against sacrificial giving could look substantive on the surface, but once we dig deeper these will actually prove to cut our heart attitudes even deeper than those who would use them ever imagined. Objectors even attempt to use Scripture to resist appeals from the Word that they don’t really like or prefer or are “just not how we are used to doing things around here.” (God does that, doesn’t he; His power and sovereignty extends to our intentions. He guards His Word and the pure application thereof, so that none would be led astray – even by their own hearts. He takes our wisdom and turns it into foolishness and actually uses it against our own will and intentions and purposes. His Word is alive and powerful and incisive – so thankful my own wisdom has been so often dashed. He gently teaches me His wisdom instead – He’ll faithfully do the same for you.)
“God Actually Doesn’t Desire Sacrifices.”
Let’s take a look at a passage that one might try to use against the Scriptural principle of sacrificial giving:
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Religious rituals – a daily devotional checked-off your to-do list, coming to church every Sunday “because that’s what I’m supposed to do”, giving 10% of your income once taxes are taken out – none of this matters to God.
Religious routines – going through pseudo-spiritual motions – in order to demonstrate your personal piety is meaningless to a holy and righteous God. He desires your heart, my heart. He discerns our intentions. He knows the motivations that propel us into action.
God wants us, not our money. Our money is actual his anyway, right? His desire is our hearts, rightly attuned with His Spirit, worshipping Him – exalting His Son, Jesus Christ – in all we do, including our methods and patterns of worship.
“God Rejects Sacrifices: Just look at the example of King Saul!”
In 1 Samuel 15, the Lord charges King Saul to defeat the Amalekites and to utterly destroy them – everybody and everything. Rather than obeying God, Saul takes matters into his own hands and leads the people with him to spare the enemy king, Agag, and all of the best of the animals – sheep, oxen, fattened calves, lambs – and all that was good from the spoils of their victory.
Saul coveted the possessions of his enemy, more than he desired to please God – more than he wanted to obey God. For this one act of rebellion, God takes away the kingdom of Israel from Saul. It’s the beginning of the end for his kingship.
God gave the law to the people of Israel in order to help them; the Israelites needed a system by which they could demonstrate their devotion to God. Sacrifices were meant to be an expression of their love and worship – their attitude towards God, given out of gratitude for all He had done for them.
In our present context, I fear all too often that certain religious routines are tempting us to believe that by performing them, we are pleasing God.
- “God wants me to tithe, so if I just do that much, then I get to decide what to do with the rest of it.”
- “I’ll go to Sunday School, so that at least they see I’m going to something else besides just the service, and they’ll get off my back about being more connected through a home fellowship off-campus.”
- “I already served my time in the (fill in the blank) ministry – God doesn’t expect me to keep serving my whole life.”
- “Our church supports missions, right? So, I’ll just give my tithe to other missionaries that I know about – that’s good enough for God.”
“God doesn’t delight in sacrifice.”
There’s another Scripture that is often used as a trump card against sacrificial giving, although those who would use it must disregard the context:
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Obviously, if you read this passage, it’s really easy to think that God doesn’t really want sacrifices at all – He wants our hearts – a humble heart and attitude contrite before Him. And, yes! Yes, God does want these things. Let’s continue reading, though, and see what the teaching is within the broader context.
“Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”
Religion without repentance is worthless. Ritual without regard to our attitudes – just going through the motions, thoughtlessly – is a waste.
Let’s commit together to:
- ask God to discern our motivations and reveal to us those that are twisted and corrupt,
- ask God to give us the grace, and faith, needed in order to fully obey him, rather than to be wise in our own eyes,
- and to ask God to show us what we are to keep for ourselves – our own ‘overhead expenses’ so-to-speak – and readily sacrifice all else for His kingdom purposes through our local church’s mission and ministry