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Tithes versus Offerings

Submitted: 9/18/2004
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Question: Did the early church pay tithes as Abraham did to Melchizedek, or did they simply give an offering of sacrifice? What does the better practice seem to be based on your experience and studies of the Word of God? Is one ‘more’ right in the eyes of God?

Answer: The early church walked in the steps of their father Abraham (Romans 4:12). Abraham both gave the tithe to Melchizedek AND made offerings to God. The difference is this: the tithe is a set amount, the first tenth. Offerings are as a man purposes in his heart (1 Corinthians 9:7). In the case of the widow, her two mites were counted as having more value than all the money put in the offering plate by the rich. Jesus doesn't look at the amount, but at the heart.

The word translated “offerings” in the Old Testament is korban. Its root meaning is “to draw near.” While tithes are a basic responsibility like good citizenship, offerings are what bring us closer to God. Some people are very faithful in their tithes but never give anything beyond tithes. What they fail to realize is that tithes just keep us at ground level; offerings are what move us skyward. I believe that this is because our offerings are the best indicator of the true generosity of our heart.

I have known many people over the years who have been faithful financially and many who have not. I can tell you that those who are faithful in bringing their tithes into the storehouse and who give generously with a good spirit are prospering in the Lord. Those who obey the letter but object to it in their heart are struggling just as much as those who are not faithful at all. In the end, it is the heart that counts, not the dollars.

God rebuked the people of Malachi’s day for robbing him. When asked how they were robbing God, He answered, “In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).

There is obviously much confusion about the doctrine of tithes, and many have been hurt by church leaders who club believers for not tithing or impose it on God’s people like a law. For a more detailed answer to your question, please read our article titled The New Testament Tithe. It can be found on Shelf 4 of the Apostolic Free Library.