The concept of offerings has never changed from the Old Testament to the New. God is honored when we willingly bring Him our offerings, whatever they may be.
Offerings, as described in the Bible, are not the same as the tithe. The tithe is giving to God a tenth of our increase. In our contemporary world, the tithe is usually monetary, given in obedience to the ancient Biblical command. Offerings, on the other hand, are over and above the tithe. They are entirely voluntary.
God leaves it up to us to decide what to give, as well as whether or not to give.
"Terumah" is the Hebrew word used for offerings. It combines the idea of giving up something valuable with the act of lifting it up to God. This word implies a reverent separation from the common, sanctifying the offering by the act of exalting it, as the worshiper gives it to God gladly.
It appears as if the supreme criteria for offerings was that they be given willingly. Only God knows the genuineness of an offering, because it is an affair of the heart. Secret recesses of human hearts are only visible to Him. An offering is acceptable only if it is not grudgingly given.
In the Old Testament, God suggested the children of Israel offer gold, silver, bronze, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen... from their Egyptian treasures. With these offerings, the tabernacle would be built according to His specific instructions.
If I lived in the times of the Exodus, I imagine my heart would be overflowing with gratitude for being freed from Egyptian bondage. An offering would give me an opportunity to tangibly demonstrate my joy! What a privilege to know that my treasures would be used for the holy task of building the tabernacle!
I'm reminded of the women, who parted with their bronze mirrors so that the laver could be created from them. Mine would also have been given to be melted in the furnace so that the priests could cleanse themselves to serve before a holy God. How amazing to participate in such a sacred endeavor so that the God of the Universe could commune with us!
Collected for the purpose of creating a place for God to meet with man, offerings were still voluntary! I believe the same is true today. Every invitation from God comes with the liberty to draw near, or to walk away. Those who choose to ignore will tragically lose more than they will ever realize, just as surely as there is blessing for those who draw near!
"Terumah", the free will offering, our treasured possession, is to be lifted up before God and given freely. First deliberately decided upon, then separated from the rest, the "Terumah" is elevated to God as a holy act.
He treasures what no one else can understand or view—the secret surrender of our hearts in grateful love. He knows what motivates us to lift up each offering. He is aware of its cost. He knows if our hearts were genuinely tender towards Him or not. He perceives what no one else can ever know.
But most importantly, He knows that in the act of separating and lifting up our offerings, we are acknowledging and inviting a partnership with Him. He responds by lifting us up from the common! This elevating, or exalting is difficult to articulate, but is a tangible reality. Our perspective is changed, and every aspect of our lives is infused by His blessing, which transforms.
Jesus was the perfect offering, separated from the womb as holy and lifted up for all mankind! HIs sacrifice gave each of us the liberty to come before a holy God with our free will offerings of lives consecrated to Him.
Art is a creative overflow of His life in me and my life surrendered to Him. It is the least I can do for the liberty, joy and peace He has blessed me with.
Join me in making a similar offering of your life and work, as I have for years now. I value what I create, and I'm certain you do too.
By making art my offering, I am separating it from the ordinary in my life and elevating it to a sacred place. The act of lifting my offering up to God, invites His presence to invade every aspect of my life, including my creativity.
He meets me at the place of my offering and speaks to me. I hear Him well. I commune with Him in my studio. He receives my flawed and imperfect offerings and elevates my times spent with Him.