IV. THE USE
1)For the need of the church—In the Old Testament, God wanted each of His people, the Israelites, to offer to Him a ransom for his soul. This offering was for the use of God’s dwelling place, that is, the tabernacle and the temple (Exo. 30:11-16). The church today is God’s real tabernacle (dwelling place—Eph. 2:22) and real temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17). We, all the New Testament believers, also should offer to God to meet the needs of the different expenses in the church where we are.
2)For the advancement of the gospel—“For your fellowship unto the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:5). Fellowship in this verse refers to participation and enjoyment. From the first day when they were saved to the time when Paul wrote this epistle to them, the Philippian believers continuously supplied the needs of Paul with material riches in his gospel preaching for the advancement of the gospel. Thus they participated and enjoyed with Paul in the advancement of the gospel. This tells us that once we are saved, we should offer to God the rich surplus from our material riches, which He gives us for the advancement of His gospel.
3)Supplying the Lord’s servants—“Philippians… you sent both once and again to my [the Apostle Paul’s] need” (Phil. 4:15-16). Those who serve the Lord with their full time have no time to make a living by a profession. Thus, there is a need for the believers to supply them with the material riches they offer to the Lord. First Timothy 5:17 tells us that the believers ought to supply material riches to the elders who take the lead well and those who labor in God’s word and teaching (the local elders).
4)Supplying the needy saints:
1.“Communicating to the needs of the saints” (Rom. 12:13). This verse shows that we should supply the lacking or needy saints with material riches. This is also one of the uses of our offering of material riches.
2.“Only that we should remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10). We should also remember the poor (with the stress on the poor among the believers), supplying them with the material riches we have received from God.
V. THE AMOUNT
1)“…according as any one of them was prospered, determined each one of them to send things for dispensing” (Acts 11:29); “Let each one of you lay aside by himself, storing up as he may be prospered…” (1 Cor. 16:2). We have seen previously that, according to 3 John 2, prosperity is God’s blessing to prosper us. We should determine the amount of our offering to God based upon the condition of our being prospered due to His blessing. Each person should determine his own amount according to whatever he has, not according to what he does not have (2 Cor. 8:12).
2)“He who sows sparingly, sparingly also shall reap; and he who sows with blessings, with blessings also shall reap; each one as he has purposed in his heart, not out of sorrow or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). In our offering of material riches, we will reap little if we sow little, and we will reap much if we sow much. Each person should purpose in his own heart how much he should offer without sorrow or necessity, since God loves him who is a cheerful giver.
(Life Lessons, Vol. 2 (#13-24), Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)