Monday, April 23, 2012

The Difference Between Tithes And Offerings


By Pastor Boniface Amani Gichina (See more articles in this other blog: http://yourlivingbread.blogspot.com/)
 
There is a distinct difference between tithes and offerings. They are mentioned separately throughout the Bible, even though the Lord required both to be brought to Him.
TITHES
The tithe is the tenth of all the increase that God gives to you. What does "increase" include? "Increase" is everything that increases the value of earthly possessions that God places into your trust, whether it be earned income or gifts. A tenth of everything that is "increase" to you belongs to God in the form of tithes. The tithe of your increase is not yours to give to God; it is God’s for you to give to God, and it is a privilege for us to have it to give to Him.
If you own a business, your "increase" is what is called "profit". It is the gross amount of money you have earned, minus all business deductions. You calculate the tithe on that amount, your net earnings.
OFFERINGS
Offerings are gifts brought to God beyond the tithes. The tithe was always ten percent of one’s increase, but with offerings, God gave His people some discretion as to the amount or number of offerings to bring. Their financial situation in life and the depth of their zeal for God was shown by their choices of offerings. Here are some of the offerings that God instituted in Israel for the people to bring to His servants.

1.     THE FIRST FRUITS
There was the offering of "FIRSTFRUITS", which was a little offering taken from among the earliest of one’s ripening crops. This offering was not in the form of money but in the form of crops. It was a required offering, but the amount of "first-fruits" brought to God was never specified. The people had some discretion to decide the amount or the quantity.
There was the offering of the firstborn of female animals.
" All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male. (Exodus. 34:19)
If the newborn animal belonged in the category of "unclean animals", it was not offered on God’s altar, but it still was His.
There was the offering of the firstborn child in every family. The firstborn belonged to God, whether animal or human. Instead of bringing to the Lord’s temple the firstborn child, the Lord required the Israelites to offer a certain amount of money instead.
2.     “CENSUS OFFERING”
Though the term “Census Offering” is not used in the scriptures, every male was required to offer a small offering of money with him whenever God commanded the leaders of Israel to take a census. It was a uniform offering for all. The poor could not offer less, and the rich could not offer more.
“Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. (Exodus 30:14-15)
 Census was rarely taken in Israel, but when one was taken, each male had to make this offering to the Lord.

3.     SPECIAL PROJECT OFFERINGS
Occasionally, there were offerings taken from the people for special occasions, such as the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness as recorded in Exodus 25:1-8
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,  And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,  And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”
Another good example is during the restoration of the temple in Judah in the days of king Jehoash as recorded in 2Kings 12:4-12
On these occasions, God’s people always responded with great generosity and joy.  The children of God are the most generous people on earth. When Moses announced to the people of Israel that God had told him to collect an offering of materials for building a tabernacle in the wilderness, the people brought so much that Moses had to tell them to stop. This account is recorded in Exodus 36:5-7.
“And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.”
Never ignore church projects. If you want God to be involved in your projects, then go ahead and involve yourself in His projects.

4.     THANKSGIVING OFFERING
God has provided a way for us to express our gratitude by commanding His priests to receive a Thanksgiving Offering from us on a willing basis.
And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.(Leviticus 22:29)
“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High” (Psalms 50:14)
“And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” (Psalms 107:22)
The psalmist asks a question in Psalms 116:12, thus:
What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?
He answers the same question in verse 17 of the same chapter.
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

5.     WELFARE OFFERING (GIVING TO THE POOR)
The blessings in our hands are not only for us and our families but also for the welfare of the less privileged around us. There will always be poor and needy people around us, and we have an obligation to offer help to them
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. (Deuteronomy 15:11)
When you give to the poor, you are indirectly giving to God.
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again. (Proverbs 19:17)
The Word of God gives us confidence that If we give to the poor, we will not lack.
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse. (Proverbs 28:27)
Giving to the poor guarantees more that just financial and material blessing.
Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies (Psalms 41:1 -2)

6.     SACRIFICIAL OFFERING
Sacrificial offering is giving a seed for the promotion of the kingdom of God or to a prophet sacrificially. That means the offering is “big enough” for you to feel it emotionally, spiritually and materially. This is not the regular tithe or normal offering. It a sacrifice that makes you really “feel” the cost as David did.
And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver (2 Samuel 24:24)
Abraham gave a sacrifice to God when he was willing to sacrifice Isaac. As a result, God swore an oath of blessing upon him.
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice (Genesis 22:15 – 18)
Sacrificial offerings are usually sown in tears, but the result are sweet and so conspicuous to deny.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalms 126:5 – 6)

7.     PROPHET OFFERING
Prophet offering is an offering that you give to a man of God in appreciation of his service or in order to attract some of the virtues he carry. Jesus talked about it in Matthew 10:41
“He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.”
Prophets are God’s messengers sent to be a blessing to us. Everything you give to them attracts prophetic rewards. We provoke prophetic declarations from them every time we give them a prophetic offering, just like Jacob was able to provoke the release of blessings from his father Isaac, with the venison he prepare for him (Genesis 27:3 – 29).
Saul the first King of Israel took an offering to Prophet Samuel and he life changed for ever. He went to Prophet Samuel looking for some lost asses but came out of the presence of the prophet as a King.
“And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go. Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what have we? And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way.”(I Samuel 9:6–9)
Giving to God’s prophet provoke prophetic blessings that cannot be bought with money.
The widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:10 - 24) and the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:1-37 ) were two people that enjoyed prophetic blessings by reason of what they gave to the prophets.
The Philippians Church practiced this by sending prophetic offerings to Paul again and again as recorded in Philippians 4:15 – 19.
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
It is also important to note that from almost all of the sacrificial offerings brought to God, the priests and their families were given a large portion of the animal for their food. It was their portion from God. When cattle were offered, the priest who actually did the work of making the sacrifice was awarded the hide of the animal as part of his pay from God.
From this we see that offerings of animals brought to be sacrificed to the Lord were part of God’s system of support for His servants the priests. As long as God’s people were obedient, they were happy and blessed, and as long as they were happy and blessed, they freely brought their tithes and offerings to the Lord. And when they did that, God’s servants always had more than they needed to live and provide for their families.
We no longer bring animals to sacrifice to God. The physical form that certain offerings took in the Old Testament no longer exists. But God’s servants and their families still need food, and God’s servants still use earthly money to do things they need to do for the good of the body.
In this New Covenant, God has not left His people with no way to express their gratitude for His goodness, and He has not left His ministers with no means of support from the children of God. The system of tithes and offerings is still vital for the spiritual health of the body, and I have never seen anyone with a right spirit refuse to acknowledge that.
These are the major offerings mentioned in the Bible. None of these offerings were "tithes". However, all of them rightly belonged to God, and it was robbery not to bring them to Him when it was time to do so.
It is important to highlight here that all offerings are only acceptable if they are giving from a willing heart. No offering that is given grudgingly is acceptable. Offering should be given cheerfully for God loves a cheerful giver.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corrithians 9:7) (KJV)
It also Biblical wisdom to choose your offerings wisely and give the best in the most appropriate way. This account in the book of exodus gives us a clear picture on that.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate” (Exodus 25:1 – 7)
These are the major offerings mentioned in the Bible. None of these offerings were "tithes". However, all of them rightly belonged to God, and it was robbery not to bring them to Him when it was time to do so.

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