CONCEPT

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.



They are:

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

1:14,16-17).

5. A response of love and gratitude that is

generated from the heart (I John 4:19). “We love Him because He first loved

us.”

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

Leviticus 27:32

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.

Other important

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

(Mal. 3:7).



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

Tithe and

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

(Jas. 1:17).  



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

qualityour bestthat 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.”



































SYSTEMATIC GIVING


Seventh-day

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

worship.

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

system.

6. Systematic giving is about “regular” giving.

The amount does not matter. It is the heart and the motive of giving that is

important.

7. Systematic giving always focuses on Jesus and

His sacrifice for us. He gave His

all.



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.



In Christian

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 Godthis is your

spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

Erika F. Puni

Director,

GC Stewardship Ministries

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