PRINCIPLES OF OFFERING
Let us also consider a little the principles of offering.
Not a Matter of Amount,
but a Question of Where the Heart Lies
The Bible speaks about offerings with respect to a few things. The first is material offerings. There is no set principle as to the amount one should offer. Some offer more, others offer less. Some time ago, a few brothers in Ku-tien sold all their possessions. At that time, I stopped them temporarily from doing this. There is no set principle to offering. Some offer everything they have. Christ says that a man must sell everything to follow Him. John the Baptist said that those who have two garments should give one away (Luke 3:11). The Gospels tell us to care for the poor. In the Epistles, we see that the church should care for the widows among us. However, a person must first care for his own household (1 Tim. 5:16, 8). Second Corinthians 8:15 says that "he who gathered much had no excess, and he who gathered little had no lack."
The problem today is not how much a person should offer, but the fact that money has laid hold of man’s heart. In God’s work, no one can keep his money, on the one hand, and say that his heart loves the Lord, on the other hand. The Bible says that where our money is, there is the heart also (Matt. 6:21). In order for our hearts not to be ensnared by money, we have to let the money go. If the money goes out of our pocket, the heart goes out with it. If a man loves the Lord, he will be able to choose voluntary poverty. Voluntary poverty is the way for the heart to be released. Sometimes God will ask a person to sell all he has. Sometimes He will only ask a person to give what he has in excess. Whatever it may be, the heart has to be released. In Acts, the apostle rebuked Ananias for keeping back what he had in excess (Acts 5:3-4). Today we should not have anything in excess. To have anything in excess is a shame in the church. The church should not see any excess. If there is any excess, it should be given away.
Sister Eva said that every time she went to bed, she would always consider how she could save something more from her spending in order that others may receive more. We need to take care of our livelihood, and we need to take care of our family. But that is not this issue today. As long as we would set aside a portion from our income and would lower our standard of living a little, we will be able to give away all our excess.
Today, when we speak of handing ourselves over, we are not talking about what we have to do to take care of our money. Rather, we are saying that a person has to offer himself up for the Lord and for the gospel. Brothers and sisters who are engaged in an occupation, the Lord needs your ministry in your job! These few years we are short of new co-workers. Formerly, at its peak we had about four hundred co-workers. Today we only have about two hundred, with two hundred short. In order to fill up the gap of these two hundred workers, there must be a group of people who would go to make money. Formerly, I dared not say such a word. But today I dare to say such a word. Some should go to make money and offer their money to the Lord’s service. They should consecrate themselves to make money for the Lord’s service. Perhaps such a one can make a million dollars. He will only take what he needs to sustain his livelihood. The rest he will give to the church. If you are only a spectator here, nothing will happen to you. But if you want to give yourselves for the co-workers’ need, it demands your life.
Of course, God does not want us to go to the extremes. He wants us to be in moderation. First He wants us; then He wants what is ours. We ourselves have to come to Him first before we can bring what we have to Him. If we do not come, God will not accept what we have. All the brothers and sisters have to see that everything is for the Lord and that everything has to center around the Lord. We must have the same center. Although some function in their money-making ministry while others function in their ministry of the word, the center for both must be the same.
Offering Up Our Occupation—
Taking Up Occupations Approved by God
Other than material offerings, the Bible also mentions the offering up of our occupations. The Bible shows us that many occupations are not suitable for a Christian to engage in. It is true that we have to make money, but we have to consider how our money is made. Some means of making money are not approved by the Lord. We can only keep the occupations that God approves, and we can never engage in works that God does not approve. Today, some leading ones in some localities have wrong concepts about occupations. They bring these wrong concepts to the church. As a result, the church is ill-affected. May the Lord be merciful to us.
Concluding prayer: The Lord of all our works, we beseech for men on behalf of the church. Today the church is in a state of desolation. There is a lack of men in the church. May the Lord grant us men, and may the church be filled with men. Give many gifts to the church. Be merciful to us, so that there will be consecrated ones who will hand themselves over. May we find men who would submit under Your mighty hand, so that we can serve You together with all the saints. In this age of desolation, we ask especially that You raise up not just the young ones or the co-workers, but a church that would uphold Your testimony. May more people put themselves into Your hands, so that their jobs, positions, and living can become worthy of the gospel. May there be young ones raised up to work for You, and may all the brothers and sisters rise up to match the move of the gospel. We believe that You can fulfill the work of Your recovery. May You do a greater work, and may You raise up more men to give all their time to serve You and to go out with the gospel. We ask that You raise up a great multitude of men. We are not asking first for their money or their time. We are asking for their whole person. May there be some who would offer themselves to You in a thorough way, and may they do it right now. We pray that You would remove from us the desolation and would give us men. Lord, be gracious to us; we are inquiring of You men. Only You are worthy to gain us. Only You can cause us to serve You unreservedly and single-heartedly. We would pour out the water of the well of Bethlehem here on the ground. May none among us be a withdrawing one, a hiding one, or a spectator. May the Lord be merciful to us. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, amen.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 44, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)