Q & A – Should Large Offerings be Publicly Acknowledged?

Should Large Offerings Be Publicly Acknowledged?

I have a question concerning public acknowledgment regarding the giving of an offering.

Based on Matthew 6:3-5 (in the Amplified Bible), if someone gets up in front of a congregation and announces their offering amount to the congregation publicly, do they disqualify themselves from receiving a reward from God for that offering? Is the applause of the congregation the only reward they will receive?

Also, if a person giving a large amount is recognized publicly for that amount, doesn’t that make a person who could only give $10 feel less than adequate?


The “alms” that Jesus addressed in Matthew 6 was a very specific type of giving – it was charitable giving, or giving to the poor. I believe that one of the reasons Jesus emphasized what he did here was to protect the dignity of the poor. It can exploit the poor person (and be very embarrassing to them) if their receiving of someone else’s generosity becomes spotlighted for all to see, especially if the person doing the giving is really just “grand-standing” to make themselves look good.

Also of significant importance here is the attitude and motive of the giver. It was obviously very distasteful to God when people exploited someone else’s misfortune to make themselves look good to others. I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:3 (Amplified) – Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.

Having said that, though, I think it’s noteworthy that there are two specific examples in the book of Acts where a person’s generosity was specifically highlighted. One was commended, and one was condemned.

Acts 4:32-37 describes the generosity of Barnabas, and apparently, it was somewhat public. Barnabas took the proceeds from a real estate transaction and “brought the money and laid it at the Apostle’s feet.”

In sharp contrast to that, though, is the incident which immediately follows it in the book of Acts (5:1-11). Ananias and Saphira did the same thing externally that Barnabas did, but instead of being commended as the “Son of Encouragement,” they were struck dead. In this case, we could assume that the main issue wasn’t whether the giving was done in a public fashion, but rather it was an issue of the heart.

You raise a very valid point that sometimes people could feel that their relatively “small” offering was insignificant, and I think we need to minister in such a way as to dispel that thinking. Jesus did this most effectively when He told the story about the “widow’s mite.” “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury ; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:43-44).

There are definitely dangers involved in elevating people because they give a large offering. Scripture warns against partiality and respect of persons (James 2:1-4). Pride in the giver and the shaming of others are certainly dangerous pitfalls to be avoided.

However, there is also another side of the coin. Some have argued— and I believe there is some truth to this—that certain “public” disclosures about offerings can actually inspire others to be more generous and to give more freely to an important cause. For example, it appears that the Apostle Paul engaged in this somewhat when he was writing to the Corinthians. When you read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, 24 & 9:1:5, you get the impression that Paul, in a good-spirited way, was “pitting two churches against each other,” telling each of them how generous the other church had been in order to stimulate each of them into more generous giving. It’s important to note here that Paul did not benefit personally from any of this… it was an offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Finally, the Bible tells us about the huge amounts that David gave, in a very public way, from his own personal fortune toward the building of the temple:

1 Chronicles 29:2-10 (The Message Version)
I’ve done my best to get everything together for building this house for my God, all the materials necessary: gold, silver, bronze, iron, lumber, precious and varicolored stones, and building stones—vast stockpiles. Furthermore, because my heart is in this, in addition to and beyond what I have gathered, I’m turning over my personal fortune of gold and silver for making this place of worship for my God: 43,000 talents (about 113 tons) of gold—all from Ophir, the best—and 7,000 talents (214 tons) of silver for covering the walls of the buildings, and for the gold and silver work by craftsmen and artisans. “And now, how about you? Who among you is ready and willing to join in the giving?” Ready and willing, the heads of families, leaders of the tribes of Israel, commanders and captains in the army, stewards of the king’s affairs, stepped forward and gave willingly. They gave 5,000 talents (188 tons) and 10,000 darics (185 pounds) of gold, 10,000 talents of silver (377 tons), 18,000 talents of bronze (679 tons), and 100,000 talents (3,775 tons) of iron. Anyone who had precious jewels put them in the treasury for the building of The Temple of GOD in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. And the people were full of a sense of celebration—all that giving! And all given willingly, freely! King David was exuberant.10 David blessed GOD in full view of the entire congregation…

This is an example of public giving done right, and it centers in the fact that David’s heart was entirely pure before God in this. He wasn’t into pride, and he genuinely was doing it to inspire others to give. Granted, no one could give as much as David did, but in this case, it didn’t seem to create a problem. There was an absolute atmosphere of celebration involved—it was giving that really glorified God. If you ever run the numbers on any of this, you’ll find that David literally gave BILLIONS of dollars worth of his personal fortune in this instance.

One example I saw involving “public giving” that brought great blessing involved an American pastor who sensed a leading from the Holy Spirit to make a substantial contribution to a missionary serving overseas. The missionary was endeavoring to purchase a much-needed building, and the amount needed, in the natural, was going to require a miracle. The American pastor showed up in a church service where the missionary serves as the pastor, and asked if he could greet the people. He then proceeded to tell the missionary how God had put it on his heart to help them, and handed the missionary a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars. When the pastor had made out the check, he did not know it was the exact amount that was needed to purchase the building.

The rejoicing, celebration, and praise that erupted at that moment was amazing. The people had been giving sacrificially all along, and they knew that their giving was important, but they really needed that extra boost to get them over the hump. This public offering brought an enormous amount of encouragement to the missionary and to the entire congregation. The pastor gave it in a sweet, humble spirit, and everyone was blessed except the devil.

In summary, there are potential dangers and potential blessings in the public acknowledgement of offerings. Any type of giving that is based on pride, self-exaltation, and a desire to be noticed is to be avoided. However, if people’s hearts are really right, and if there is proper instruction (the people knowing that all gifts are precious to God), there can be cases where public acknowledgement of giving results in blessing. It takes wisdom and a steady hand to guide such activities to keep them from being offensive and creating a stumbling block to others. We don’t want to encourage any Ananias and Saphira situations, but neither do we want to preclude the blessing of Barnabas-type of generosity.