It is common knowledge that the ratio of tithe to offerings is always in favor of tithe. More recently, while observing how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting members’ giving, I’ve noticed that there is a clear trend: while there is a reduction in tithe, there is a significantly higher reduction in offerings. My inquisitive mind, and probably yours as well, has led us to consider some possible reasons for the disproportionate drop in offerings.
After mentally controlling for all other variables, I’m inclined to believe that the situation is fundamentally related to the importance we give to offerings. Is it not true that most of us use the adjective “holy” exclusively for the 10 percent tithe, and not for offerings? The word “holy” conveys the idea of sacred, set apart, and mandatory. As faithful Seventh-day Adventists, we are prone to respect and honor what is declared to be holy. I have often used this line of reasoning to convince believers of the importance of returning tithe. Unfortunately, offerings seem to not enjoy the same “holy” halo. What does the Bible say?
Interestingly, the Scriptures declare the two expiatory offerings, the sin and guilt offerings, as “most holy” (Lev. 6:25; 7:1). In addition, the grain and food offerings are described as “most holy part” and “too sacred” (Lev 2:3; 22:10). Both offerings, grain and food, were not meant for atonement, but to worship God and acknowledge His provision for the needs and life of His children. As such, these offerings should inform our current practice. Hence, it is very appropriate to bring back the “holiness” to our teaching of offerings.
Our aim for this issue of the Dynamic Steward is to revisit the scriptural foundation for our practice and teaching regarding offerings. We are thankful to the group of Adventist scholars and stewardship educators who delved into this subject from their various areas of expertise. Their submissions bring a refreshing perspective to this important discipline of the Christian’s journey.
Aniel Barbe, Editor