There Are Actually Principles for Making Offerings to God
By Li Hui
Because of some trouble at home, in 1997 I began to believe in the Lord Jesus. Afterward, through practicing the Lord’s words, there was no longer any arguing at home. The Lord saved my family, saved me from my pain and gave me hope in life.
I remember the first time I went to a meeting at a church. The pastor read chapter 12, verses 1 to 8 from the Gospel of John, and he preached about Mary anointing the Lord Jesus with perfumed oil, as well as the offering made by the poor widow and, after I’d heard these stories, I felt very moved. The pastor said to us: “Brothers and sisters, in our belief in the Lord, we must be like Mary and the poor widow, and we must make more offerings to the Lord. The poor widow made an offering to the Lord of her money for food, and Mary used a jar of very valuable nard to anoint the Lord. That is to say, Mary took the best thing she possessed, the most valuable thing, and offered it up to the Lord, and this kind of action is what the Lord finds most acceptable and praiseworthy. Therefore, the more money we offer, the more treasures we will accumulate in heaven. People who do this are most blessed by the Lord, and only people like this can receive a hundredfold in this life and gain eternal life in the world to come….” After the meeting, I saw many brothers and sisters walk over to the offering box and put money inside, and I thought: “The Lord Jesus died nailed upon the cross so that mankind could be redeemed, and He has now saved me from my pain, so I should make more offerings to the Lord to repay His love. From now on, I’ll be like the poor widow and Mary, and love the Lord by offering my money. By doing this, the Lord will be gladdened and the pastor will like me too.”
From then on, I practiced in accordance with what the pastor had preached, and I used the money I would ordinarily be saving especially as an offering to the Lord.
I remember, not long after I’d first started believing in the Lord, it just so happened to be Christmas. On Christmas evening, I went to church and made an offering of 500 yuan, which was all the money that I’d managed to save on food and expenses. A pastor who had come from another church saw me offering so much money and he happily blessed me, and prayed to the Lord to bestow great blessings on me. Seeing how delighted the pastor was at my offering, I thought: “Since the pastor is so happy with my offering, the Lord will surely accept it!” When I thought of the Lord accepting my offering, my heart felt incomparable sweetness. In the days that followed, I was even more active in offering money; as long as I had even a little money on hand, I would offer it, and, without fail, I continued to make offerings. The church’s pastor also lavished praise on me, and often prayed for me to be blessed. During that time, I lived constantly within my own conceptions and imaginings, believing that as long as I offered lots of money, the pastor would be happy, the Lord Jesus would surely praise me, and I would be someone who most delighted the Lord.
Later, however, the pastors and elders became jealous of each other, and they argued and became divided in their struggle over position and offerings, which resulted in the church being in total chaos, and I couldn’t perceive any peace and joy of the Holy Spirit’s presence. Witnessing this spectacle, I couldn’t help but feel bitterly disappointed, and I left the Three-Self Church and went to other denominations in search of the Lord’s footsteps. I went to the Justification by Faith Church, the Local Churches, and other denominations, but no matter which church I went to, I saw that their circumstances were all pretty much the same. Furthermore, I always heard the pastors preach the doctrine of making offerings, appealing to believers to make more offerings so that they could attain more of the Lord’s blessings, and so I always made offerings to the churches without fail. I saw that the pastors and elders always liked people who made offerings and were always willing to pray for blessings upon those who made constant offerings, so I believed that the pastors’ actions were correct.
In 2012, a sister passed on to me the kingdom gospel of Almighty God. Through seeking and investigating, I ascertained that Almighty God was indeed the returned Lord Jesus, and so I began to live the church life. I thought: “I’ve believed in the Lord all these years and I’ve always made offerings. Now, at last, I welcome the return of the Lord, and I want even more to make lots of offerings, and thereby repay God’s love.” But I discovered that The Church of Almighty God had no offering boxes, and I thought: “Why do the pastors and elders in religion always preach the doctrine of making offerings, when the people in charge in The Church of Almighty God aren’t concerned with this matter?” Although I had some ideas of my own, seeing the brothers and sisters all living out a pious life, all dedicating and expending themselves in order to spread the gospel and bear witness for God and preparing good deeds, I felt very moved, and still I wanted to offer some money to prepare good deeds.
One time, I saw Sister Yang from the church exhausting herself by spreading the gospel, so I took 300 yuan and gave it to her as an expression of support for the gospel work, and I also made an offering to God of the money I’d saved. Unexpectedly, Sister Yang said to me very earnestly: “Sister Li, everything we do in The Church of Almighty God has a principle behind it, including the offering of money. I cannot just take your money.”
Hearing her say this, I felt very puzzled, and thought: “Making offerings to God is perfectly justified. Didn’t believers in the Lord always make offerings in religion? What principles are needed?” And so I said: “While I have believed in the Lord, I have been to meetings at other churches, and the pastors there would often preach the doctrine of making offerings, and would appeal to brothers and sisters to offer their money. I also frequently made offerings. But I’ve never heard any pastor preach about any principles concerning offering money. Is there any difference between The Church of Almighty God and other denominations when it comes to offering money?”
Sister Yang said amiably: “It’s fitting that we should make offerings to God, and it is the duty that we, as created beings, should perform. But there are principles to making offerings, and even more so there are truths to be sought. Let’s first look at the church’s principles for offering money: ‘All those who believe in God know very clearly that God’s work requires the coordination of people, and it requires leaders and workers from all levels of the church to supply, water, and guide God’s chosen people in maintaining God’s work. The expansion of God’s gospel of the kingdom requires God’s chosen people to run around and expend themselves; in addition, the various books of God’s word and of communication of truths used by God’s chosen people require printing and distributing. Therefore, God’s work of salvation pays a price for each and every one of God’s chosen people who receive God’s work, and all such expenses are supported by the offerings that God’s chosen people make to God. As a result, God has expectations for all God’s chosen people, and offering to God is a duty and obligation of created beings, and expending themselves for God is the responsibility that they should fulfill. This is justified and obligatory. Everyone should offer up their share for God’s work, regardless of how each person understands this matter. Some insist on making an offering of ten percent, while others contribute in different ways. As long as it is being offered willingly, God will gladly accept it. God’s house only specifies that those who have only believed in God for less than a year are temporarily exempt from providing any offerings, while poor people are not required to provide any offerings but can make offerings according to their faith. The church will not accept offerings that might lead to family disputes. Those making an offering of money must pray several times, and only after they are sure they are completely willing and are certain they will never have any regrets are they to be allowed to make their offerings…. The principles for making offerings are: You must know God’s work, can see that you have come to a real understanding of the truths through your faith in God, know how to live as a human, walk the path of attaining salvation, feel that you are in debt to God for His love, and that you must fulfill your duties as a man such that your conscience will feel at ease. If you then make offerings at this time, you shall be completely willing, while at the same time, you will feel enjoyment and comfort because you have conscience and reason. If someone has believed in God for many years, yet does not feel that he is a pursuer of the truth and that he will attain salvation, then he has no need to make any offerings, for he will not be completely willing even if he should make any offerings…. The church does not allow anyone to ask others to make offerings through preaching or any other reason. All those who are keen to talk about making offerings have ulterior motives. The matter of making offerings depends on each individual’s conscience and reason, as well as their understanding of truths’” (“Principles for Establishing a Church and Managing Church Life” in Selected Annals of the Work Arrangements of The Church of Almighty God).
Sister Yang went on to fellowship: “Sister Li, according to the principles for making offerings, although offering our possessions is a duty and an obligation that every one of us should perform, it must be practiced according to whether or not we understand the truth and whether or not we are willing to do it. This is because God doesn’t want us to offer money externally, and it is not the case that God blesses whoever offers the most. What God wants is our hearts, not our momentary impulses or temporary enthusiasm. If, because we understand His will and experience His salvation of us, we then want to repay God’s love, pray and seek many times, and make offerings willingly and gladly without the intention of gaining God’s blessings, then this is the only kind of offering God will accept. If we do not seek His will, but just offer a lot of money without really being willing to do so, then we will one day come to regret it, and God does not accept this kind of offering. God’s house therefore requires that if people do not understand the truth and cannot bring themselves to be willing to make offerings, then they must not make offerings, for God does not compel people to do anything that is against their will. Right now, you’ve only just entered the church and you don’t yet understand many truths. You must focus on reading God’s words diligently and, after you’ve understood the truth, then you can make offerings according to the principles of the truth, and only when we do things this way will God remember it. Moreover, within The Church of Almighty God, no one, no matter who they are, may use any excuse to appeal to people to make offerings. If they do, then they are people who are harboring wrong intentions, and they will be dealt with, disciplined and warned. Leaders and workers who persist in appealing to people to make offerings will be replaced. Furthermore, the money offered by brothers and sisters is an offering made to God, not to any one person in particular, and no one may privately accept an offering made by brothers and sisters or take the liberty of using it themselves. If someone secretly steals any offering, then they are a Judas, and in serious circumstances, they will be expelled from the church.”
Amazed, I said: “The Church of Almighty God is indeed different from religion. In order to make an offering, one has to understand the truth, and there are all these principles and stipulations. This is something that can only be done by people who have God in their hearts and who fear God, and it is something I have never seen in religion. Thinking of the time I spent in religion, the pastors simply didn’t care whether we were new believers or veteran believers, or whether we understood the truth or not. They just kept appealing to the brothers and sisters to make offerings, saying that God took delight in people’s offerings, and that only those who offered a lot were considered praiseworthy by God. The pastors preaching to us in this way led us all astray, and made us think wrongly that the more we offered, the greater the blessings we would receive. So in order to get the pastors to like us and to earn God’s praise, many brothers and sisters ended up offering their money, and little did we realize that all our offered money would eventually be grafted away in the name of all manner of things by the pastors and elders. It was such a dirty trick for the pastors to do this—wasn’t this just the same as when Judas stole offerings? The consequences of doing this are so serious! Today, The Church of Almighty God does not permit its members to appeal to people to make offerings, and there are also principles for offering. The church first asks people to understand the truth, and then it allows them to make offerings. If anyone dares to privately misappropriate or squander offerings, then a corresponding punishment is meted out to them according to the situation. The Church of Almighty God truly is fair and just, and the truth is in power! Sister Yang, I’m already certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, and my offering is made most willingly, so please take it!”
Sister Yang spoke gently, saying: “Sister Li, if our offerings are made sincerely, we still have to practice prayer several times in accordance with principles, for only when we are sure not to regret it and our actions are pure can the offering be acceptable. Moreover, I cannot myself take your money, for there are also principles for the taking of money. Let’s see what the principles say: ‘Any leader, worker or evangelist of the church must not accept offerings directly from brothers and sisters alone. There must be at least two people to accept the offering together, and a receipt must be given to the brother or sister who made the offering as proof that the money has been transferred to God’s house. All transactions that involve passing money to a senior level of the church must be done by two people together. The money must not be carried by one person alone…’ (‘Administrative Principles for Managing and Using the Money of God’s House’ in Selected Annals of the Work Arrangements of The Church of Almighty God). Sister Li, God knows us like the palm of His hand. He knows that we have been corrupted so deeply by Satan and that we all have greedy natures, and that our lust for money is particularly strong. Therefore, the church stipulates that when an offering of money is being taken, it must be handled by two people so that they may supervise one another—this is God’s protecting us! Right now, I am on my own, and this does not conform to the principle of taking an offering. In a few days, I and the person in charge will come back together to take it—only practicing in accordance with principles earns God’s praise.”
Hearing the sister speak, I said: “That’s fine. I never realized that The Church of Almighty God would have so many strict principles and requirements about just offering some money. It really is so different from the world of religion, and so different from any department or organization found in society! I see that the requirements of God’s house are all there to protect people, and that the truth is indeed in power within The Church of Almighty God.”
Sister Yang was much moved, and said: “That’s right! Almighty God has come in the last days to work and He expresses millions of words. All these words are the truth, they tell people all the truths they need in order to attain salvation, and they allow people to have the principles of the truth in their every action and deed and to live out a true human likeness. Almighty God says: ‘For the sake of your fate, you should seek the approval of God. This is to say, since you acknowledge that you are a member of the house of God, you ought then to bring peace of mind to God and satisfy Him in all things. You must, in other words, be principled in your actions and conform to the truth in them. If this is beyond you, then you shall be detested and rejected by God and spurned by every man. Once you have fallen into such a predicament, you cannot then be counted among the house of God, which is precisely what it is meant by not being approved of by God’ (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words, we realize that we must seek the truth in all matters and handle them with principle in our belief in God, and this is the condition for meeting with God’s approval. We must hold to all of the requirements God has for us, for only in this way will we win God’s protection. Therefore, God requires that we must accept the truth and practice the truth in our belief in Him, and handle all matters according to the principles of the truth, for only by doing this will we conform to His will and earn His praise. Otherwise, we will be detested and rejected by God and spurned by all other people. Sister Li, all the truths expressed by Almighty God are what we need, and as long as you read the words of Almighty God, you will come to understand even more principles of the truth.”
After listening to Sister Yang’s fellowship, I thought again of the time I’d spent believing in the Lord in religion. Every church had its own offering box, and the pastors often preached sermons to make people offer their money, and whoever offered the most was held in high esteem by the pastors. When offering money, we would just place it in the offering box; there were simply no principles to making offerings, much less did we ask for any receipt, and so most of the offered money ended up being pocketed by the pastors and the elders. But The Church of Almighty God is different. Regardless of whether someone is making an offering or receiving money, there are principles to follow, and this really widened my knowledge and broadened my horizons. When I heard Sister Yang refuse my offering, I didn’t understand. But now having read the principles of offering money and heard her fellowship about God’s words, I understand that Sister Yang was acting in accordance with the principles of the truth, and was acting entirely in accordance with God’s will. The whole world has now been so corrupted by Satan that it is at its zenith of darkness and evil; the saying “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost” has become people’s motto for their lives, everyone worships money, and everywhere has become saturated with the exchange of money and power. Every group thinks of ways to make money, and even relief funds donated to areas struck with disaster are embezzled by greedy officials abusing their authority. But now I see that only The Church of Almighty God is a pure land. Almighty God Himself expresses the truth to provide for people, so that they may seek and understand the truth in the course of performing their duties, act in accordance with the principles of the truth, and thereby gain the truth, obtain life and live out a true human likeness—this really is the work of the true God! I wish to earnestly follow this path of faith in God and pursue the truth, so that I may handle matters with principle, and attain the salvation of Almighty God.