This is one statement, which is mostly quoted out of context and I must admit I was a culprit of this in the past. This message can be found in the Old Testament and most churches use this Scripture as the basis to collect offering at every single gathering of church members. But, let us see what the LORD actually says:
“Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed” – Deuteronomy 16:16 [NIV].
This same command was mentioned earlier in Exodus 23:17.
In the above verse, we can clearly see that the command was not even given to the whole of Israel at the time: it was given only to the men and this was supposed to happen only 3 times in the year. The command did not apply to women probably because of the journeys involved for the celebration of these feasts. The reason why God mentioned 3 times can be found in the same chapter. The men were commanded to celebrate three feats at different timings, which are: The Passover, The Festival of Weeks (aka Festival of Pentecost) and The Festival of Tabernacles, (Deuteronomy 16:1-15). And they are required not to go to these feats empty handed because sacrifices for sins among other things will be done. And remember that in the Old Testament, animals have to be sacrificed for a person’s sin to be covered, (Hebrews 9:13, 22; 10:4).
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving. The problem lies with quoting scriptures out of context to milk members dry. The Bible made it very clear that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), which means that if you give under compulsion, your offering becomes an abomination to the LORD. And I am all for giving, because there is more blessings in it than receiving (Acts 20:35). So, always have it at the back of your mind to give cheerfully to the LORD and not under compulsion.