The subject of giving is mentioned throughout the Bible and knowing what God says about it is important for the life of a believer. The word of God talks about both the tithe and offerings. There are 5 different types of giving beyond the tithe and I am going to talk about all of them. Let’s start by discussing tithing, though, since it is the form of giving that people are most familiar with.
First of all, tithing is 10%. The word tithe means “tenth.” You cannot say, “I’m going to tithe 20% of my income” or “I‘m tithing 90% of my check this week.” Well, you can say that, but it is not a tithe. A tithe is 10%, off the top. Anything beyond that is an offering, which we will talk about later.
Let me say this before we continue: Jesus did not abolish the law and prophets. In other words, He didn’t come to say that what God said “Yes” to is now “No” and what God said “No” to is now “Yes.” Jesus fulfilled the law. In other words, He followed the word of God perfectly.
Stop talking about the Old Testament this, the New Testament that. The Bible is the Bible. Take the whole thing and work the instructions.
There are a few things about tithing that I want to mention.
NUMBER 1: THE TITHE BELONGS TO GOD!
The Bible says that every tithe of the land belongs to God. You cannot differentiate between good or bad, nor can you make a substitute in place of it. If you do make a substitute, then both the tithe and the substitute need to be given.
You need to decide if you’d rather have 90% of your income blessed or 100% of it cursed. People say they can’t afford to tithe, but the reality is that you can’t afford not to tithe! You’re going to pay your tithe somewhere. Either you’ll bring your tithe to the Lord with joy or you’re going to pay it with interest somewhere else.
NUMBER 2: YOU CANNOT CONSUME THE TITHE ON YOURSELF!
The tithe was not just for the Levites, although the Levites did have to pay a tithe of the tithe (no one was exempt). The tithe was also brought for the widow, orphan, and sojourner.
Look at it this way: 100% of every dollar you make belongs to God and He’s only asking for 10%. Giving has nothing to do with you or the receiver. It has to do with your trust in God. If you consume the tithe on yourself, you open the door for struggle to consume you!
NUMBER 3: TITHING OPENS THE DOOR FOR GOD TO BLESS YOUR FINANCES!
The Bible says that if you obey God when it comes to tithing, then you can ask God to bless your finances (Deuteronomy 26:5-15).
A non-tither can never be blessed. People that don’t tithe will always have something going wrong. They always have some kind of struggle. If you think you’re too smart to tithe, then you’re too dumb to prosper.
NUMBER 4: TITHING PROTECTS YOUR ASSETS!
When you are obedient to tithe, as it says in the word of God, God says He will rebuke the devourer for your sake. When you withhold the tithe, you are cursed. The Bible even says that you are robbing God (Malachi 3:8-12).
When you tithe, everything in your home will last. The parts on your vehicles will last. You won’t have things breaking down all the time and eating up your money. The blessing of God adds no sorrow.
Again, this is determined by your heart (Matthew 6:21). If you give begrudgingly, don’t expect things to turn around. But if you give joyfully, out of love, then God will honor His word with signs following!
FIRST FRUITS OFFERING
As I previously mentioned, there are 5 types of giving that the Bible discusses beyond tithing. The first of these is the first fruits offering.
First fruits offerings were given a couple of times a year. The Israelites were an agricultural society, so the timing was based on the harvest schedule. At the beginning of the Biblical year, the barley was harvested, and the people would bring a first fruits offering from that harvest (Leviticus 23:9-14). At Pentecost (“fifty” in Greek), also know as Shavuot (“weeks” in Hebrew), the Feast of First Fruits or the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22; Numbers 28:26-31; Deuteronomy 16:9-12), they would bring a first fruits offering from the wheat harvest.
FIRST FRUITS OFFERING – Beginning of Year
The first fruit offering given at the beginning of the year was a seed offering (so to speak) saying that God was in control of what you brought in and you would trust Him no matter what. It was a gift of faith for what you were believing God for throughout the rest of the year. It was the first bit of harvest from your crop. It was not the full harvest, not the tithe of the harvest, but a bit of the harvest that you offered to God out of obedience.
How do you give a first fruits offering at the beginning of the year in today’s society? Here’s an example: If you make $500/week (for easy math), give a first fruits offering of your first day of work. If you work 5 days a week, this would be a one time $100 offering at the beginning of the year.
Why would you do this?
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”
FIRST FRUITS OFFERING – Increase During the Year
Remember that another first fruits offering is given during the second harvest. How does this apply to you? The Bible says that when you obey in giving God the offering of first fruits, that the blessing will rest on your house (Ezekiel 44:30-31). So, when the increase comes, you are to give a first fruits offering from your increase.
Using the previous example, if you are making $500/week and you switch jobs or get a wage increase so that you are now making $600/week, then you would give a $100 one time first fruits offering.
First fruits offerings were given once at the beginning of the year and/or at the time of increase. The Bible says, that if you honor God in your first fruits, he will make sure your supply is plentiful.
The next type of giving beyond tithing is sacrificial giving. This is a gift that costs you something. This offering would be something you wouldn’t give away because it means something to you. But remember, when everything means nothing to you, God will give you everything. This doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t value things. He is trying to get from you, so that He can bless you.
In 1 Kings 17:13 it says, ‘…Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son.”’
This was a sacrificial gift. She told Elijah that she was going to eat her last meal and then die, but instead she gave it away and because of her gift, God blessed her and they lived.
1 Kings 7:15-16 says, “… she went and did as Elijah said. And she and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.”
A few other examples of sacrificial giving are the woman who poured the alabaster flask of expensive ointment on Jesus (Matthew 26:6-13); the woman who gave her two small copper coins (Luke 21:1-4); Abraham and Isaac: and, not to mention, God the Father giving Jesus.
Sacrificial giving is not something to be performed on a constant basis. This is something to reveal your trust level. If God is asking you to do this often, then you may need to check if you have misdirected trust on a continual basis. Job, Abraham, and Jesus were all tested with this and the result was that they ended up better than they started. It is also important to note that the test was a short season in the span of life.
Remember, it is normal to be challenged, but it is unscriptural to be defeated!
“Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
HONORING THE MAN OF GOD
1 Timothy 5:17
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
I believe one reason that many churches and individuals struggle is because they don’t know how to honor people. This is a major source of unhealthy living in the body of Christ.
Honor is not, “Here is a gift card” or “It’s pastor appreciation month, I guess I should do a nice gesture.” Honor comes from a heart of love and as long as you don’t show honor, you will not reap honor and will struggle all the days of your life.
If you cannot show honor, then you need to check your heart. Also, you should ask God the question: “How do I honor them?” You cannot honor someone the way that you think they need to be honored. Why? Because they may not receive it. You have to ask God what is the best way that you can honor them, so that they will be receptive and be blessed. You are not giving to get praise. You are giving to God, but to bless the receiver. If you give them something that would bless you, but doesn’t bless them, then you gave out of selfish motives.
The widow of Zarephath not only gave a sacrificial offering, but she honored the word of God and the man of God. Yes, she received financial blessing, but because she honored the man of God, when her son became ill and died, her son was brought back to life (1 Kings 17:8-24).
Had she not honored the man of God, then she and her son would both have died. Honoring a man of God brings back to life that which you thought had died!
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
There was a Shunammite woman who was wealthy (in other words, she didn’t need financial breakthrough), who showed honor to Elisha. She gave him a meal and then made a room for him at her house. She told her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.” Although she told the man of God that she didn’t need anything, she received a son that she did not have (2 Kings 4:17)!
Honoring the man of God triggered something that money couldn’t buy! In time, the son died, but just like we saw in the previous example, her son was brought back to life (2 Kings 4:18-37). Honoring the man of God is an offering that will return to you in ways much more valuable than money!
PARTNERING WITH A TRAVELING MINISTRY
2 Kings 8:1
“Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the LORD has called a for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.”
Because this family had partnered with Elisha, God protected them from ruin. God protected them and restored to them all that rightfully belonged to them, including all seven years of produce (2 Kings 8:1-6)! This all started when she honored the man of God and partnered with his traveling ministry! Even after she did all this, she still had another part to play in obeying the word of God.
2 Kings 8:6
“And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”
We also see in the word of God that both Jesus and Paul had people who partnered with their traveling ministry.
In Luke 8:1-3, we see that Mary, called Magdalene; Joanna, the wife of Chumash; Herod’s household manager; Susanna and many others provided for Jesus and the twelve disciples out of their means.
In Philippians 4, Paul says that the church of Philippi partnered with his traveling ministry through financial gifts. The same God that supplied all of Paul’s needs would also supply all of their needs according to His riches in glory.
Partnering with a travelling ministry puts an end to personal, business, and ministry losses according to the Word of God (2 Kings 4; Philippians 4: 11-19). If there’s an economic downturn coming, God will give you notice so you can stay ahead of it.
The fifth and final type of offering I want to discuss is alms giving and there are several points worth noting about it.
NUMBER 1: SALVATION & GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Alms gifts are given to the poor. Cornelius, mentioned in Acts 10, gave alms generously.
It wasn’t just the prayers of Cornelius that ascended to God but also his alms! This opened the door for Cornelius and his family to receive. Not only did his giving bring salvation to his entire family, but they also received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
NUMBER 2: GOD REPAYS THE GIVER
“Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.”
“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed.”
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”
Alms giving opens the door for blessing. You are not just giving to the poor, you are giving to God, and He repays the giver. Withholding slams the door of blessing and opens the door to a curse. Which of these are you doing?
NUMBER 3: OPENS THE DOORS OF BLESSING
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.”
In this verse we see that giving alms gifts opens the door for God to:
1. Deliver you from trouble
2. Protect you
3. Keep you alive
4. Bless you to be prosperous in the land
5. Rescue you from your enemies
6. Take care of you when you’re sick
7. Restore you to full health
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ALMS GIVING
Giving a cheeseburger to a homeless guy on the street is a nice gesture, but wouldn’t be categorized as an alms gift in and of itself. You need to work with people who are making a substantial impact somewhere in society. How? One way is to give to a Godly organization that is helping the less fortunate (such as widows and orphans).
Finally, it is important to remember that building a school or church or putting a roof on a building is a great humanitarian effort, but if that is all you do, then you are lacking. Give the poor aid and opportunity, but most importantly, give them the gospel of Jesus. This has to be done by preaching the gospel to all nations!
There is one final thing I want to mention about giving an offering. I look at offerings the way that I look at fasting. If you fast without prayer, then it is just a diet. If you give without prayer, then it is just humanitarian work. If you have no focus for your fast, then it is futile. You must have a reason for your fast. If you give without a focus, it is just a handout. You have to have a reason for the gift. Giving is never about the receiver on the other end. You can’t think to yourself, “Well they don’t deserve it.” Neither do you, but who are we to tell God who He is allowed to bless through a gift? It is the kindness of God that draws men unto repentance (Romans 2:4).
Any gift that I give is done wrong if I’m giving for man. I cannot be moved by feelings, but have to be moved by God. That is not to say that feelings are not involved, but that we have to be directed by God.
RECAP OF OFFERINGS IN THE WORD OF GOD
First Fruits offering
Honoring the Man of God
Partnering with a Traveling Ministry
Alms (Giving to the poor)