Last week we looked at the importance of the tithe in the life of the believer. If you haven’t read my post on tithing, check it out here, or watch my message here. This week we look at offerings…how they differ from tithes, the purpose of offerings in our lives, and acceptable offerings that we can give. You can watch my message on offerings here, or listen here.
As previously discussed, the tithe was established nearly five centuries before the law was written. Thus, although it was eventually codified in the rules of the law, the tithe is primarily rooted in a relationship with God. The good news is not that we have to tithe each time we receive income, but that we get to! We get to celebrate God’s provision by returning a portion of what he has given us. The tithe’s practical manifestation is a systematic, percentage based contribution to your church’s general fund.
So what, then, is the offering? Sunday we looked at two stories out of the Old Testament that capture the essence of what the offering is intended to be.
Cain and Abel in Genesis 4
Just after the fall (Genesis 3) Adam and Even begin having children. There first two are sons, Cain and Abel. You can read their story here. So why did God approve of Abel’s offering and not Cain’s? I believe there was a heart issue. Abel gave of the “firstlings” of his flock, while Cain does not seem to make such a distinction. It appears he just gave some of his crop. Abel was truly worshipping through his gift, while Cain was making an offering out of obligation. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Still today, God is looking for givers who give joyfully, out of love.
We church people have an unfortunate tendency to do our religious practice because it’s what we’re used to or because it’s what is expected. I argue that God would rather you did not do these things at all rather than do them with a wrong attitude. The psalmist says it this way, “O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, o God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:15-17). He wants your heart more that He wants your stuff.
Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22
After waiting decades to see the fulfillment of God’s promise of a son, Abraham is now asked to give that son back to God through a sacrifice. Read the story here. The second principle of an offering is sacrifice. More often than not, if God is asking you to make an offering above and beyond your tithe, there will be some sacrifice. You may have to choose not to go ahead with a purchase you were planning or delay something you enjoy having or doing. But, in the end, obedience is worth it! God promises that He will provide for our needs and not let His people go hungry…so trust Him!! He provided Abraham a ram to sacrifice instead of Isaac…He will provide for you too.
The most basic difference between tithes and offerings is this: The purpose of the tithe is primarily to support ministry, but you also get a deeper relationship with God. The purpose of the offering is to deepen your trust and reliance on God, but you also get to support ministry. Practically, the tithe is systematic, percentage based giving to your church’s general fund. Offerings are specific opportunities to obey and to bless in addition to what you are tithing.
Spiritually, your greatest offering is yourself. Paul addresses this in Romans where he says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). Give of yourself…your whole self…your time, your talents, your relationship capacity, and yes, your finances.
So ask God how you can best serve Him today. Obey Him with a joyful heart and be willing to sacrifice, if that is what He asks you to do!
Blessings – Josh