There are basically three terms used in Scripture as it relates to giving. One such term is alms giving, and relates to the term “gifts.” This expression of giving has to do with one’s charitable donations to the poor, to humanitarian interests, or to non-religious benevolent concerns. While these are often worthy of financial support, they are viewed separate from the tithes and offerings that relate to the direct work of the Lord.
Perhaps the term that most people are familiar with is that of the tithe. Tithing is a Biblical principle for the support of the Lord’s work. The tithe is normally considered to be a tenth part of a person’s gain. This tenth part principle is established in Genesis 28 and Leviticus 27. The tithe is to be paid from all sources of increase and is to be given from the “firstfruits” of that increase (II Chronicles 31:5-6 and Proverbs 3:9-10). This simply means that the tithe is paid not on what is left after all the “bills” are paid, but from the total of one’s income or increase.
Finally the term offering is distinct from the tithe, as is seen in the Malachi 3 text (you have robbed me ‘in tithes and offerings’), and in Deuteronomy 12:5-6: “But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks”(NKJV). The implication of these and other passages is that the tithe already belongs to God, and the “freewill offering” is an amount in addition to the tithe that one “purposes in his heart” to give, “not grudgingly or of necessity,” but willingly and joyfully because, “God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).
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