I can think of several reasons not to write an article called “Worship With Your Wallet.” First, it sounds like a sermon from a sleazy televangelist trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of his gullible audience. Second, given our current economic crisis, suggesting that we worship with our wallet may seem insensitive to people’s real-life challenges. Third, worship leaders are only too familiar with the refrain: “The church cares way too much about money.” In an effort not to offend people, we’ve avoided the subject of money and worship. Besides, most of us who lead worship aren’t especially comfortable with the relationship of our own faith to money. But if we want to lead people in fully biblical worship, then we simply can’t ignore money and its relationship to worship. In truth, Scripture frequently highlights this connection. From a biblical point of view, worship has plenty to do with your wallet and with the wallets of those you lead in worship, with engaging in the worship of money.
How to Worship With Our Wallets Apart From the Worship of Money
Worship and Offerings in the Old Testament
Consider, for example, the fundamental nature of worship in the Old Testament. Though the Israelites sang songs and prayed prayers, the core of their worship was offering sacrifices and gifts in the temple in Jerusalem. Giving tangible offerings was a way for people to express their devotion to the Lord. Such worship was costly, requiring that people give up valuable animals, produce, coinage, and precious metals.
The Old Testament prophets sometimes condemned people for giving material offerings while failing to live a life pleasing to God. Without justice, the Lord wasn’t interested in people’s offerings, or even in their songs of praise for that matter (Amos 5:22-24). Yet, when the Israelites were generous to the poor, this was a gift to God Himself (Prov 19:17). Their worship centered in acts of costly giving, both to the Lord’s work in the temple and to His people in the world.
Worship as Giving in the New Testament
Because the early Christians believed that Jesus had given himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin (Heb 7:27), they did not maintain the Jewish tradition of offering sacrifices in the temple. But followers of Jesus did continue to give financial gifts as an expression of their gratitude to God (2 Cor 9:6-15). Generosity with one’s economic resources was expected of Christians (Rom 12:8), especially of the rich (1 Tim 6:17-19). Their giving helped poor Christians (Rom 15:26) and supported other believers in their ministry efforts. Paul told the Philippians that their financial gifts for him were “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Phil 4:14-18). God received generosity in his name as worship.