"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
My children have learned the order of our Sunday church service by heart. The offering comes just a few minutes before our pastor delivers his sermon. The piano and organ play a beautiful piece of worship music. The congregation sits reverently in our pews as the offering plate is passed from one row to another by way of the deacons. The mood is quiet and a silence is the preferred atmosphere as our tithes and offerings are presented to God each week.
Congolese Christians, on the other hand, perceive the time of offering as one of loud joy. Each individual goes up to the offering plate by himself or herself. And it just would not be fitting for them to walk up to the offering basket at the front of the church. They dance, whoop, and holler out praises to the Name of Jesus as is befitting to the King of glory. Offering can take up to thirty minutes. I was in one service where the pastor was dissatisfied with the results and ordered that the offering be taken again! (I have often wondered how that would go over in our American churches!)
God does not look at our style of worship. All He cares about is the condition of the heart that beats within our chests. We can put thousands of dollars in the offering plate or a few cents. If we are giving a portion that represents our ability to thank our King for all of His goodness and faithfulness to us through our tithes and offerings, He is very pleased with the little or the much.
Sometimes I long to be back in the middle of the tropical heat on a Lord's Day. Although I never did as a child, I think I just might have the courage to dance up to that offering plate, oblivious to all who were watching me. I have come to know my Jesus since then in a deeper way than I could ever have imagined as a young girl. He has given me a life to sing, shout, and dance about. He has filled my heart with loud praise--the kind that makes these feet want to dance all the way to His throne.
Jesus, thank You for my beloved Congolese brothers and sisters who love You so deeply and give so sacrificially. Bless them for all they have taught me. Accept my offering to You today. I love You!