Why Do We Do That? – The Offering
Taken & Adapted with permission from Christ Church Presbyterian, Evans, GA.
With very few exceptions an offering is received whenever our congregation meets for worship. “Sure,” you might say, “the bills have to get paid somehow!” and of course that would be a true statement. The money collected in the offering each week does provide the means necessary to keep the lights on and pay the staff. But the there is a far bigger picture. Lights and staff are just a few pieces of moving our body towards the mission of the church which is to worship God, build up disciples and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Our gifts are meant to support the worship and the work of God (Acts 4:32-35) as they provide for the laborers and the work of the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 9:14; Galatians 6:6), and they help the disadvantaged (Romans15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Acts 11:27-30). But the offering is even more than that – it is an important part of Biblical worship.
When the offering is collected in worship, there are two kinds of gifts people are putting in the plate: tithes and offerings. Tithes represent one tenth of what the Lord has provided for us, and offerings are gifts beyond the tithe. Both are Scriptural.
Tithing in the Old Testament (giving one tenth of what we have) appears first in Genesis 14 where Melchisedek the priest gave Abraham (who was stilled named “Abram”) bread and wine, followed by a blessing from God. In response, Abram “gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20). For those who would like to dismiss tithing as limited to the Old Testament law, it’s important to note that this seminal incident occurred about 400 years before the law was given. Abram gave a tenth apparently because he instinctively knew that he should, and he did it willingly. Tithing has nothing to do with the law or legalism, and everything to do with acknowledging God as Lord with a grateful heart. Godly men tithed before the law was given (see also Genesis 28:22). The law helped to establish the importance and relevance of tithing, but the law did not invent tithing.
So what about tithing in the New Testament? Jesus spoke directly to tithing in Matthew 23, where he says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
Here Christ clearly teaches that giving tithes will not earn us salvation – that’s a matter of the heart. At the same time he divinely blesses tithing when he says, “without leaving the others (tithing) undone.” The same incident is recorded in Luke 11:42. Later in Luke’s account we find Jesus taking notice and commending a poor widow who was faithfully giving to the temple treasury (Luke 21:2-4). Just as Jesus came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it, so the tithe is not abolished but becomes a part of the law of love, because love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10).
One tenth is a starting place for all of us, but we are not under law – we have a better covenant. God’s love has been poured out in our hearts. As God speaks to your heart, you will find the amount you give to His work increasing. If you find yourself fighting against the tithe, God’s word calls you to examine your heart, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
See also 1 Timothy 6:17-19, and Acts 20:35.
Question: Do I have to give 10%?
Answer: No. You can give 20%!
While there are so many wonderful gospel works in our world that we all should prayerfully consider giving to with our offerings that go beyond the tithe; it is the conviction and encouragement of your Session that the priority of the tithe of God’s people go to the church where we worship, grow and serve. Otherwise the worship we engage in, the discipleship and community we cultivate and the gospel ministry that goes forth locally and globally will be greatly hindered.