Tithe and Offerings - It All About Worship
Biblical stewardship is the total commitment of the heart to God. This includes the returning of the Lord’s tithe and the giving of freewill offerings as an expression of our spiritual worship. In the bigger picture of Christian stewardship, this part of our response is very often referred to as “financial stewardship.” Financial stewardship, however, would also include the responsible use of the rest of our earned income and blessings after we’ve returned tithe and given our offerings. For the purpose of this article, I will limit this discussion to the study of
tithe and offerings and how financial giving is practiced globally within the
Seventh-day Adventist Church.
There are seven theological realities that help establish a biblical framework for understanding the returning of tithe and the giving of offerings by God's people as they worship Him, in Scripture.
There are seven
theological realities that help establish a biblical framework for understanding
the returning of tithe and the giving of offerings by God's people as they
worship Him, in Scripture.
1. An acknowledgement of God’s creatorship of the
universe and the world that we live in. Genesis 1:1, for example, starts with
the assertion: “In the beginning, God.”
2. An expression of partnership with the Divine.
As God’s stewards, we live and exist for His purpose. We are entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of
all of His resources in the world (Genesis 1:26,28).
3. Making a statement of commitment to the rule of
Jesus in the world and in their personal lives (Matt. 6:33).
4. A recognition of the blessings of God that come
to us because of His goodness and abundant grace in Christ Jesus (John
5. A response of love and gratitude that is
generated from the heart (I John 4:19). “We love Him because He first loved
6. A demonstration, in thanksgiving, of their
faith and trust in God, the Provider and Sustainer of life (Phil. 4:19).
7. The living of a covenant relationship with God
where He is both Savior and Lord (Jer. 29:12,13).
The Lord’s Tithe—An Expression of Our Faithfulness
provides the primary principle for tithe and tithing in the Bible. Tithe is a
fixed portion, a “tenth,” or ten percent of our total income and increase from
“everything.” While it is true that God owns everything in the world, He, as
the Owner, has made a special claim on this percentage of our income. It is His
portion and property. We are able to return it because of the blessings He has
already bestowed upon us. From a theological perspective, we don’t
"pay" tithe, because this would assume that the money is ours. Tithe
is “returned” to the rightful Owner, and that Owner is God.
One other critical aspect of tithe that needs to be stated here is the fact that God specifies the place (storehouse) to which tithe must be returned, and who (Levites and priests) is to be supported with His property.
biblical principles of tithe include the following: It is holy to God; it is a
spiritual response even though we may return it in monetary form; it is an act
of worship whereby we acknowledge His sovereignty and it is an expression of
our faithfulness to Him. It is a matter of a “right” relationship with God
One other critical
aspect of tithe that needs to be stated here is the fact that God specifies the
place (storehouse) to which tithe must be returned, and who (Levites and
priests) is to be supported with His property. In this sense, God was very
particular with tithe and it was to be used for a special purpose.
Freewill Offerings – Our Best for God
offerings, in many ways are similar but they are also very different. For
example, whereas tithe is about a specific quantity of the whole (our
increase), offerings are about the quality of the gift. Notice this instruction
from God to His people, Israel, “If any of you—either an Israelite or an alien
living in Israel—presents a gift for a burnt offering to the Lord, either to
fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, you must present a male without
defect. . .” (Lev. 22:18,19). The primary principle of offerings is that we
give God our best in recognition of who He is--the Giver of all good gifts
Now the question in
regard to this expectation of God of us—to give Him our best—is this: “How do I
determine my best?” The Bible provides two elements that can assist us with
this matter. The first is that we must give God an offering in proportion to the
reception of His many blessings (Deut. 16:17). The second is that we give from
a joyful heart (2 Cor. 8:12; 9:6,7).
It is a personal choice in response to God’s greatest and best gift ever
given to humanity and that is Jesus Christ His Son (John 3:16). In practice,
our best in offerings could be a percentage higher then ten percent (more than
tithe); it could be another ten percent (equal to tithe); or it may mean a
percentage lower or less then ten percent of our earnings. For offerings, the
amount is immaterial because there is no limit to our giving. It’s about the
quality—our best—that we give to God. In the case of the widow who gave her two
mites at the temple, she gave all (Luke 21:4). The real measure of our giving
is not about what is given, but on what is left after we give. Stewardship is
“All of me in response to all of God.”
Adventists practice “systematic giving.” Here is how this works in real life.
1. By systematic giving, we are saying that we
must give prior thought and prayerful consideration to the process and to the
amount we give in offerings. The process, for example, may include consultation
with other members of your family well before the Sabbath to ensure that we are
giving God our best and that we are
giving from a heart of gratitude. It is planned giving.
2. Systematic giving means that the Lord’s tithe
is put aside first when we receive our income. By following this principle, we
can save ourselves from using God’s money for other things.
3. With the Lord’s money or tithe, being put away
first, we can now set aside our regular offerings as part of our corporate
4. The Bible encourages Christians to give
financial support to the needs of the poor and other worthy causes. This ought
to be part of our financial stewardship.
5. Systematic giving considers the ministry needs
of God’s Church both locally and globally. This is one of the strengths of the Adventist offering
6. Systematic giving is about “regular” giving.
The amount does not matter. It is the heart and the motive of giving that is
7. Systematic giving always focuses on Jesus and
His sacrifice for us. He gave His
God Expects Both in Tithe and Offerings
While God expects
us, His people, to return to Him His tithe and our offerings of thanksgiving as
expression of our worship, it would seem to me that from His perspective,
offerings are more important. When we are faithfully returning tithe to God, we
are simply giving Him what belongs to Him. In this way, we have not really
given God anything. Christian generosity and giving comes as a response to
God’s grace. It is shown by what we do and give beyond returning tithe. It’s
the real measure of our love for God. More importantly, our giving must also
show our care and concern for those persons who are less fortunate than us—the
poor and the marginalized of society.
stewardship, God invites us to a life that we share together with Him. Yes, we
may give Him our treasures, but He is more interested in our heart, our total
being. This is the best we can
offer Him. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer
your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your
spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1).