When trying to distinguish between tithes and offerings, it is important to first understand the concept of tithing. Christians today often think that what they give to their local church is a tithe, when in reality it is an offering. Christian tithing is a misnomer because Christians are under no obligation to fulfill the command to tithe as given to the Israelites as part of the Mosaic Law. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10% of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income as an offering, but this is not a tithe (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
God expected the Israelites to honor Him by giving the first fruits of what He gave to them. Leviticus 27:30 states, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.” Giving the 10% tithe was commanded of the Israelites and was therefore an obligation. When Christ died on the cross, He fulfilled the requirements of the Law and made the mandatory 10% tithe obsolete. To continue to insist that it is still in effect is to nullify, at least in part, the sacrifice of Christ and return to the idea of justification by works and law-keeping. The first fruits offering found its fulfillment in Jesus. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
An offering is that which is freely given by Christians to the work of the Lord, the local church, and/or ministries and missions. But offerings are far more than simply the check we write on Sunday. We are to offer much more to God than our monetary resources. Romans 12:1 exhorts us to offer our bodies “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” as part of our worship. Romans 6:13 gives the reason for offering ourselves: because we are “those who have been brought from death to life” and, as such, we are to “offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” God is not nearly as interested in our monetary offerings as He is our submission and obedience. The truth is that He doesn’t need our resources to accomplish His plans and purposes. After all, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and needs nothing from us. What He desires, however, and what He values, is the heart that overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving to the God who saved us and who gives us all things, knowing our needs before we even ask (Matthew 6:8). Such a heart gives generously, willingly, and cheerfully in response to the love and grace that abounds in Christ (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. In some churches giving is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is sometimes not the case in the church today.
Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.
The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.
The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Malachi 3:8— Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
BY: Pastor John Hagee:
If you don’t tithe, God sees you as a crook!
Tithing is God’s financial plan for you. The money you spend for lunch today will last about four hours. Money spent for a car will last 36 months, maybe. But money spent for the kingdom of God will last forever. The Bible says to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. The day is going to come when all that you will have is what you’ve given to God.
Why should I tithe? Because God commands it. The Bible says to bring all the tithes into the storehouse. Not “if you feel led.” He says do it. Do you pay the IRS because you feel led? No, you do it because it is the law.
If you don’t tithe, God sees you as a crook. He’s got your picture on his “most wanted” bulletin board in heaven. Some of you go to church wearing stolen clothes and stolen jewelry, riding in stolen cars. You took God’s tithes and offerings and bought those things. And God’s computer in heaven has a red light flashing beside your name. Beep…beep…beep. Poverty…poverty…poverty.
If you don’t believe that, read the ninth verse of Malachi. “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me.” I didn’t write that, God did. If you don’t give, you are living under a curse. You will work harder and make less. You will financially struggle regardless of your income. Whatever you make, it will not be enough. Why? Because you’re in rebellion to the will of God.
You say, “Look, I know a guy who never tithes and he’s rolling in money.” No you don’t. You know a guy who’s storing it up so he can go to the Methodist hospital where a surgeon will split him open like a field-dressed deer and get all his money in one day.
The people who prosper long-term, are the people who obey God’ word and who qualify for success according to his principles.