Monday, February 19, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - Biblical Foundations About Tithes and Offerings

Do you have your offering? This was a question I heard every Sunday morning just before I left for church. My answer was usually yes but I can assure you that I had it only because my parents gave it to me and it was something that Christians did. I fear that many still have this limited understanding around their giving, so today we're going to dig into what the Bible says and hopefully come away with a better understanding around giving.

Before the Mosaic Law was established, there was an understanding that sacrifices or offerings should be given to God.

The first instance in the Bible was Cain and
Abel. Both gave sacrifices; God accepted Abel's and rejected Cain's. It wasn't about the sacrifice itself but the attitude of the heart. Cain's true intention was revealed when God spoke to Cain and said, “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master” (Genesis 4:3-7). Cain's resentment at God's rebuke revealed the true state of his heart because he then went out and killed his brother. Cain seemed to be giving because it was required and not because he wanted to.

Abram - a hero of the faith gave the spoils of war, 10% to Melchizedek a Priest of the God Most High. Abraham viewed all the spoils not just the 10% as it all belonging to God. Abram did not want any of it.  Abram said to the King of Sodom I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise, you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’ (Genesis 14:17-22).

Jacob, on the other hand, had an eye for an eye mentality when it came to giving to God. God promised to remain by Jacob's side as well as provide him with land and descendants who will bless the earth. Jacob responded conditionally: Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me” (Genesis 18:10-20). After this Jacob spends the next 20 years with Laban, where it is never noted in scripture that Jacob kept his promise.

Mosaic Law was instituted with Moses (hence it being called Mosaic) and the rules for tithing were instituted. The literal definition of the word tithe is one-tenth, but there were three tithes under the Mosaic Law.

  1. Levitical Tithe (Numbers 18:20-24) - This was a 10% annual donation to support the priests. Priests were from the tribe of Levi.
  2. Festival Tithe (Deuteronomy 12:17-19; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Deuteronomy 26:10-16) - An annual 10% tithe use to host the Feast of Tabernacles which was a feast that celebrated the Israelites deliverance from Egypt.
  3. Charity Tithe  (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)- a 10% offering giving in the third and sixth year to support foreigners, orphans, and widows as well as the Levites.
If you were to do the math the Israelites were required to give approximately 23% of their income annually, not the 10% that we fixate on.

So what does all of this teach us?
  • God wants our offerings. 
  • He has given us all that we have.
  • Giving is part of our relationship with God.
  • Giving is a demonstration of our faith.
  • God established guidelines for giving. 
  • Our giving isn't obligatory.
  • Giving broadens our hearts so that we think about those less fortunate than ourselves.

God's word is consistent and everything in it is for our edification and growth. It provides amazing clarity around our giving. God wasn't asking for much - just an acknowledgment of faith and love that was indicated by offerings. These foundational principles around giving reinforce the blessing in giving and provide an understanding of God's word on the priority our giving has.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Proverbs 3:9

Do you have your offering?

Resources: God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer
Strong's Concordance


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  1. What a practical and clear explanation of tithing!
    Love this post.
    My pastor used to say, "You can't out-give God!"

  2. Thanks for this teaching on tithing as outlined in the OT. Now, have you seen what the NT says about it? I would love to hear your thoughts on 2 Cor 9:5-7, but in context of course.

    Thank you for explaining the OT tithing. I never did the math so I didn't know their tithing added up to 23%. thanks for that!

  3. Our giving is not so much for how God needs it, rather our hearts need it. the more generous we are, the lighter our hearts and the more we recognize the author of our gifts, as you said. great post, friend!

  4. Tithing is a matter of the heart. Once we our devoted to God our giving will reflect it! And as Melanie mentioned in an earlier comment. We can't out give God.

  5. I think all we have is really God's, not ours. So in that sense we need to be really good stewards of what we've been blessed with. It's not about numbers, it's about our heart's attitude. Thanks for tackling such an important topic. Blessings to you as you love and serve the Lord!

  6. Love your explanation of giving. We serve a generous God who gives so freely— oh, to be like Him! Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from #coffeeforyourheart :)

  7. Such a practical walk through tithing in Scripture. Thanks for the straightforward, simple concept here!


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