Let me say clearly and emphatically that the main reason for GIVING an offering to our local church is to “meet the needs of others; not to meet our needs.” The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Acts 20:35, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” This verse does imply that we too shall be blessed, but its main teaching is that we should be GIVERS and NOT RECEIVERS. If one is handing someone a prayer petition along with their offering it looks like they are “negotiating” or “striking a bargain,” as if to say, “I want the Lord to do this for me because I’m doing this for Him.” Again, when we give money to support the poor or to support missionary work, our primary motive for giving should be to help those who are in dire need. I might add that another motive for giving (which should always be the case) is to glorify God (for He is the greatest GIVER of all…John 3;16), for scripture tells us: “….whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1st Corinthians 10:31).

You mentioned a “tithe offering” and a “seed offering.” The word “tithe” means “a tenth part.” In the Old Testament God commanded His earthly people Israel to give 10% of their crops or livestock to the Lord. “Thus all the TITHE of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S; it is holy to the LORD…and for every TENTH PART of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the TENTH ONE shall be holy to the LORD” (Leviticus 27:30 & 32). But as we shall see, God’s “heavenly people” (the church of God) are not commanded to tithe. I would like to quote two passages which will show us that we are to be GIVERS, but that our giving is NOT A LAW that we are commanded to obey. This second passage will also address the so-called “seed offering.”

The first passage is 2nd Corinthians 8:12-14: “For if there is first a WILLING MIND, it is accepted ACCORDING TO WHAT ONE HAS, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, ‘He who gathered much has nothing left over, and he who gather little had no lack.’” Paul was writing to the saints at Corinth and encouraging them to give of their abundance to the poor. In doing so he gave them THREE PRINCIPLES for giving:

1) We should give with a WILLING MIND! In other words, we should give BECAUSE WE WANT TO and NOT BECAUSE WE HAVE TO. As stated earlier the church of God is not commanded to give; we should give because our hearts desire to give to meet present needs. In 2nd Corinthians 9:7 Paul said, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

2) We should give ACCORDING TO WHAT WE HAVE! In other words, we give according to what the Lord has given us. Paul had already addressed this in 1st Corinthians 16:2, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, AS GOD HAS PROSPERED HIM.” If He has given you a large income, you may be able to give a large gift. Under the Law people gave 10% no matter how much they had, but under grace we may be giving 30%, or perhaps 50% or more, but if we have a very small income we may only be able to give 5% or less.

3) We should give BY AN EQUALITY! The Lord doesn’t want us to BECOME POOR while we make OTHERS RICH; he wants us to give to those who have a genuine need and “according to what we have.” They in turn may be able to help us out when we are in need and they have more than they need. See Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-37 to this how the early church living by this principle.

The second passage is 2nd Corinthians 9:6-7, “But this I say, He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Verse 6 is where the phrase “seed offering” comes from, for God is using the example of a farmer “sowing seeds and reaping accordingly” to illustrate the believer “giving and receiving according to how much he gives.” You can be sure that Paul never meant this verse to be used as it is today by religious charlatans who “urge you to give more to their church or organization” and then they promise you that “God will bless you abundantly if you do.” Again, we saw earlier that the main motive for giving is NOT to receive, but to bless those in need and to glorify God. Yet in this passage Paul is setting forth an INCENTIVE for giving by informing us that God loves to bless us according to how much we are blessing others. It doesn’t say “how God will bless us” and thus it is wrong, as stated earlier, to “negotiate with God” by presenting a gift and then asking Him to bless us in a certain way. He will bless us according to His “good and acceptable and perfect will” (Romans 12:3) and not according to “our will.” It may be with more money so we will have more to give to those in need, or it may be in the form of “spiritual blessings.” Whatever the case, “God is no man’s debtor” and He will surely bless those who have the desire to bless others.  (428.5)  (DO)