Is There a Difference Between Tithe and Offering?
Article by R. Joseph Ritter, Jr. CFP® EA
In Exodus 29, various offerings were described – sin offering, burnt offering, wave offering, heave offering, drink offering, and grain offerings. An offering is a form of sacrifice (Genesis 4:3, 22:2, Romans 12:1, Ephesians 5:2, Hebrews 10:18). Offerings are not obligatory but are to be made of our own free will to strengthen our relationship with the Lord and be reconciled to Him. While tithing is directly related to our labor, offerings can be made by anyone for any reason at any time.
If you are not laboring or generating an increase – you are retired, disabled, legitimately unemployed, full-time volunteer, living off your savings, etc. – then your giving is not a tithe. Instead, it is an offering. It may seem like a technicality, however, remember that a tithe is 10% of the increase gained from your labor. If you are not laboring, then you do not have an increase. What I mean to say is that you are not bound by any tithing laws, and you should resist becoming trapped in legalism. Give abundantly an offering unto the Lord as you are able and as the Lord leads you.
Lela McConnell, founder of the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association, is said to have written, “I would a million times rather be where God wants me in a hard field with no pay, than to be where God doesn’t want me with good pay. To be supremely happy, satisfied, and contented – to have enough to eat, enough to wear, and a comfortable place to sleep – is life in abundance.” Her offering was herself and everything she had available to her. She did not give only 10% of her increase but all of herself.
In Mark 12:42-44, a destitute widow gave an offering even in her time of lack. The point of the widow’s story was that those who give tithes and offerings do so from their “abundance,” whereas the widow gave everything she had. One of the best attitudes we can embrace in giving is to truly see ourselves as “rich” even when we have little. We can then freely give because our needs have been met and are being met. We can give in such times because we have truly tasted the hand of God in our times of want.
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