As we observe the Lord’s Supper every week, you will have noticed that we begin with the presentation of our tithes and offerings. This Table is a table of thanksgiving, and we know of no better way to tangibly express our gratitude to God than by means of our tithes, our offerings, and our gifts. We are imitating Him. He loved us—to the breaking of His body, and the shedding of His blood. We seek to make our gifts an imitative sacrifice, and that is why we do it here.
What is the difference between tithes, offerings, and gifts? The tithe is God’s tax—and the fact that it is likely the only just tax you have ever paid should not make you shy away from calling it a tax. The Almighty God requires ten percent of your increase as His tribute; the fact that the ever-grasping state demands much more than that tells you everything you need to know about just who exactly they think they are. We will know that our leaders are repentant when they refuse even to think about taking more than God requires.
You may think of offerings as votive gifts. You have made a vow, and God blessed you, and you offer a gift in fulfillment of the vow. This can be made to sound mercenary, but it is a perfectly biblical thing to do. You are starting a business, let us say, and you vow to God that if He blesses it with x, you will respond with y. Take care, however, to make sure that you really do y, just like you said you would (Dt. 23:21).
And gifts are simply gifts—in response to a particular need or just because you are grateful. Offerings and gifts are given on top of the tithe, and should never be thought of as a substitute for it.
This of course leads to a host of practical questions, but why do we assume that practical questions—do I tithe off net or gross?—are somehow inconsistent with a spirit of gratitude? The answer, incidentally, is that you tithe off the increase, that which you realized, that which God actually gave you. A farmer doesn’t tithe off the crops that the locusts ate, and this includes the locusts that work for the Department of the Treasury.
We are here at this Table to love the Lord our God, and not to crunch numbers. But at the same time, if we love the Lord our God with all our minds, these are questions we should ask, and answer, so that we may come with the intent to overflow—with gratitude, with joy, with love, and with whatever we put in the offering box that is placed on this Table.
So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.