Introduction: What does it mean to make an “offering” to God? In the
Old Testament, it was often bringing an animal. To me, the phrase
“tithes and offerings,” brings to mind giving money. I recall fondly
the many times when I was up in front of our church with our pastor.
When it came time to collect the “offering,” I would hand him a
dollar to donate because he never remembered his offering. It became
a point of humor between us, that I would automatically hand him a
dollar. This week we will explore a different kind of offering, one
that does not involve small amounts of money, but rather large
amounts of your life. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and
learn more!

  1. The Offering of Devotion

    1. Read Luke 7:36-38. What do we learn about the past life of
      this woman? (She lived a sinful life. The text does not
      describe the sin. While some say this woman is Mary
      Magdalene, it makes no sense that Luke would not state her
      name, for he mentions her by name in the very next chapter
      ( Luke 8:2).)

      1. Why do you think this woman did this for Jesus? (The
        context argues that Jesus had done something
        wonderful for her to bring her out of her past life
        of sin.)

        1. If Jesus has helped you out of sin, are you
          grateful or are you looking longingly at your
          past life?

    2. Read Luke 7:39. Do you think that Jesus knew about the
      past life of this woman? (What we will read next shows
      that He absolutely knew. That supports the argument that
      Jesus previously intervened to help her.)

    3. Read Luke 7:40-43. Do you agree with Simon’s answer? (I
      hope so, because Jesus tells us it is the correct answer!)

    4. Read Luke 7:44-46. Why do you think Simon invited Jesus to
      dinner, but did not show Him the proper hospitality?
      (Simon was curious about Jesus. He was not a believer. He
      undoubtedly thought he was better than Jesus, and when
      Jesus tolerated the conduct of this woman, it made Simon
      more certain of his conclusion.)

    5. Read Luke 7:47-48. Why were this woman’s sins forgiven?
      (“She loved much.”)

      1. In Jesus’ story, the one forgiven the larger debt
        loves more. How is it that this woman loves Jesus so
        much before her sins are forgiven? (I think Jesus had
        previously forgiven her sins or shown her that He
        accepted her. That triggered her response to Him.
        Jesus says at this point, “Your sins are forgiven” to
        assert to those listening that He is God, He is the

    6. Let’s think about this story and how it applies to you and
      your church. Are the current leaders of your church those
      who have been terrible sinners in the past, or are they
      people who have generally been obedient to God most of
      their lives?

      1. If so, do we have in leadership the people who love
        Jesus the least?

    7. Are the successful people in your church (in the eyes of
      the world) those who have been terrible sinners in the
      past? (Probably not. Recall past lessons in which we
      learned that God gives us His commandments to make our
      lives better. Thus, those who have led a life of obedience
      are likely more successful.)

      1. If I’m right, does that mean that those who have the
        most money and talent to give to the cause of God are
        the least motivated to give?

    8. My statements connecting obedience with success are
      generalizations, and those are always incorrect for some
      people. But, if you see the general problem I’m
      describing, what would you do to fix it? Or, is it
      something that cannot be fixed? (The Pharisee class during
      Jesus’ time appeared, at least on the surface, to be
      obedient. This leads our minds to the problem of pride and
      self-sufficiency. Perhaps we need more teaching on the
      less obvious sins so that more members will love more.)

    9. Read Luke 7:48-50. What issue did Jesus cause the people
      to consider when He said, “Your sins are forgiven?” (Who
      He is. This is the central issue of the gospel: who is
      Jesus Christ? Only God can forgive sins, and that is
      Jesus’ point.)

      1. The woman has been doing a lot of things that Simon
        did not do. Is that the “faith” that saved her? (No.
        Her attitude was the complete opposite of that of
        Simon. She was grateful to Jesus. Her gratitude
        demonstrated itself in her gift and her actions.)

        1. What is the result of your attitude towards

  2. The Offering of Gifts

    1. Read 1 Peter 4:10. What kind of gifts have humans received
      from God? (Peter does not list spiritual gifts as Paul
      does in his writings (1 Corinthians 12), but if you read
      the context of this verse Peter mentions love,
      hospitality, speaking and serving.)

      1. What is our obligation with regard to these gifts?
        (To share them! To make an offering of them.)

    2. When someone encourages you to make offerings to God (to
      the church), do you only think they want money?

      1. If so, why do they want money? (The point of money is
        to buy goods and services.)

      2. Would your gift of services be a substitute for
        money? (If the point of money is to buy some service,
        then giving that service simply provides a shortcut
        to the process.)

  3. Payback

    1. Read Matthew 6:2-4. What does it mean that those who
      announce their gift “have received their reward in full?”

      1. If we follow what Jesus recommends here, will our
        reward from Him be in secret? (It seems hard to
        believe that it is in secret.)

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6. What does this text promise with
      regard to our giving? (That God will reward us. We either
      have a small reward (when we are stingy) or we have a
      large reward (when we are generous). Does this make the
      nature of our giving clear to all? Does it make our
      generosity public?

      1. How would you explain the difference between the
        “keep it to yourself” direction, and the “you’ll get
        a big reward promise? (It is God, not you, who is the
        source of praise.)

    3. Read 2 Corinthians 9:7. In this series of lessons we have
      considered whether the Old Testament sanctuary tithing
      system, with its Malachi 3:8-9 statements about robbing
      and curses, is still fully applicable. What does this text
      suggest? (The specific context is helping fellow members,
      not supporting the clergy, but Paul seems to be speaking
      very broadly about giving – it is not “under compulsion.”)

    4. Read 2 Corinthians 9:8-9. What is the “payback” promise
      here? (That “in all things at all times” we will have “all
      that you need.” Having what we need releases us to “abound
      in every good work.”)

    5. Read 2 Corinthians 9:10-11. In what way will generosity
      make us rich? (“You will be made rich in every way.”)

      1. Is God talking about money or just mental blessings?
        (The text refers to “seed to the sower,” “bread” and
        “harvest.” These are tangible blessings. These are
        the equivalent of money.)

      2. Do you doubt this? (Many reject the promise of
        financial blessings. “Prosperity gospel” is a
        negative label for this. Yet we have repeatedly read,
        in both the Old and New Testaments, promises of
        financial blessings for those who pay a faithful
        tithe or in some similar way are generous towards

      3. Why the resistance to God’s promises? (Some point out
        that Jesus was not rich. He was also not good-looking
        ( Isaiah 53:2). Being poor and average looking was so
        that every person could say that Jesus experienced
        the “sorrows” that are common to humans. (See Isaiah

      4. Is the problem that everyone who is not rich says, “I
        don’t think this is true – based on my experience?”
        (There are two answers to this. First, we need to be
        honest about whether we have been generous with God.
        Second, being “rich” is a relative term. Consider how
        you are compared to most of the rest of the world.)

    6. Friend, will you offer your devotion and your gifts to
      God? He makes a great offer in return! Why not test Him

  4. Next week: The Role of Stewardship.