Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
Some people define multiplication as “repeated addition.”* I remember my math teacher explaining multiplication that way. I understand that 5 x 3 is also 5 plus 5, plus 5. However, as I grew up and began studying more complex types of math, multiplication as “repeated addition” did not quite calculate.
In multiplication, the order of things should not matter. If you multiply 2 x 5, the result should be the same as 5 x 2 but in real life, it depends on what sort of things it is you are trying to multiply. For instance, a mathematician named Keith Devlin of Stanford University says multiplying 3 bags of 4 apples is not the same as 4 bags of 3 apples even though they equal 12 apples. He also mentions that a stretch factor of 3.8 when applied to a 7.5-inch rubber is not the same as stretching a 3.8-inch rubber band by a factor of 7.5. These are just a few examples why multiplication is not “repeated addition.”
We can think of tithes and offerings in a similar way. When we place money in the offering plate, its value is not only the total of all the money we have put in. The value of whatever we place in the offering plate is not easily added up. Its final value is however much God multiplies it.
What we give in the offering plate is a sign of our faithfulness. Matthew 6:19-24 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-24) God multiplies what you give beyond its obvious monetary value. More than the accumulated amounts, the benefits to an individual giver may be spiritual (deepening of faith), emotional (knowing the joy of giving), formative (gaining a greater understanding of priorities in life.) When the people of a church give together, the value of what is given becomes more than what is evident. The pooled resource coming from individual allows the church to work in mission and ministries, affecting lives in the church, in the community and in the world because God multiplies it.
These most recent weeks, Forrest Hill United Methodist Church has featured testimonies from various individuals about God’s goodness and our gratitude for such goodness. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says we must give, “not reluctantly or under compulsion” but cheerfully. It must be a joyous thing to give back to God because it is an expression of your trust in God and an expression of gratitude for all that He has given. Beyond knowing we have given a particular amount we also receive, say, 1) a lesson on trusting God; 2) a sense of gratitude; 3) and joy – all of which are intangible things that come out of God’s generosity.
Giving is trusting that God can multiply and exponentially grow what has been given, so much so that it can no longer be physically counted. What other things does God give you when you give back to him with your tithes and offerings? How is God multiplying what you have given by changing your life? Trust in God’s mathematics. As you give more of yourself to Him, expect miracles!
*For an explanation of this, follow the program “The Math Guy” on National Public Radio.
Pastor Cecilia Granadosin