Assorted Biblical Offerings

Assorted Biblical Offerings April 17, 2024

So far, we’ve examined a general concept of Biblical giving and the specifics of tithing. We’ve learned about the different requirements for giving, why tithing was (and remains important), and the different form tithes took in Biblical history. In this installment, we are going to learn about different types of offerings: specifically, firstfruits, almsgiving, and general offerings. In moving between both Old and New Testament giving, we will see the wide variety of options that exist for Christians who seek to be a blessing in God’s Kingdom.


Offering, person handing money to another
Photo by Karolina Grabowska:

When we are deep in worship, we often sing about giving God the “best” of what we have. Sermons abound telling us to put “God first” in our lives. I have yet to meet anyone who disagrees with these sentiments. We agree with them, but life has a way of tempting us to justify our idolatry. Whether it’s skipping church, loving our spouse or children just a little more than we should, or pursuing our interests while cutting devotional or spiritual times, it’s too easy to put the invisible God behind things more visible to us. This is truer nowhere than our finances. It’s easy to cut our giving without a second thought, thinking nobody will notice.

Thing is, God notices. Our temptations toward covetousness drive us to selfish pursuits, leading us away from God. How do we prevent such things? Is it as simple as automatically drafting our tithe payments? While such definitely helps, we challenge selfishness through bigger gestures. In the case of Bible history, it was through the practice of firstfruits.

Giving from the first part

Also known as the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost, firstfruits was an entire holiday of “first giving.” Celebrated seven complete weeks (or fifty days) after Passover, firstfruits is exactly what it sounds like. During firstfruits, people offered the first and best parts of any harvest to the Lord.  Exodus 23:16 and 19 tell us:

Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field...Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God. (NIV)

Firstfruits demonstrated obedience and reverence, giving God what was first rather than leftover. No other crops were harvested until firstfruits were presented. Offerings included grain, olive oil, new wine, honey, wool, herds, and flocks.


Almsgiving is a fancy term for “giving to the poor.” The Bible doesn’t state how much one should give to the poor, but rather, it focuses on how such is given. Deuteronomy 15:7-8,10-11 says:

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need…Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. (NIV)

The Bible acknowledges that sometimes people are down on their luck or have circumstances that require assistance. In the ancient world, people were the responsibility of their families; there was no such thing as welfare or a disability system. Charity helped others achieve self-reliance and was done regularly, without asking, and without fanfare.

Determining where to give

These principles demand we consider our giving beyond just handing out money or goods. First, we should consider there are more “causes” in this world than those that might be common or popular. It’s not just about the charities with the biggest names. Many large charities suffer from overfunding, which means the money donated isn’t going to the function or purpose of the organization, but high overhead costs created by excessive donations. Second, we should consider the ultimate life-changing purpose of a group’s goals. Medical research, for example, is a great thing…but people often need help in the immediate rather than a long-term goal. Third, what kind of difference does this contribution make? Are the considerations of charity met, or is something else at work?

Also worth considering: charitable programs don’t always have to be about homelessness to count. Advocacy for marginalized groups, domestic violence, suicide prevention, clean water programs, literacy/education, and mental health awareness all meet the criteria to better the lives of others and help foster self-reliance.

Making these considerations ensure where we give matters, touches lives, and accomplishes more than just providing a tax write-off.


The term “offering” is used a number of different ways in Scripture. For example, the book of Leviticus is full of specified offerings to address different things. These offerings were made, sometimes obligatory and sometimes voluntarily, for the sake of reconciling different situations between God and the Israelites and one another. Sometimes offered for individuals or offered for a group, the concept of an offering suggests worship and sacrifice to make something right.

In the New Testament, the idea of “offering” usually refers to one of two things. The first is the offering, or sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins. Through this action, Christ’s sacrifice made us right with God, ending the need for the Levitical offering system. The second is a financial offering, one that is brought to the church in a few different contexts, but most obviously, so the church can function.

The New Testament doesn’t specify a required amount for offering (although it does echo the idea of leadership provision, as is found in old Testament tithing). Any time we give, if it’s given to the Lord, we make an offering before God. The Bible does tell us, however, how we should give in an offering. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NIV)

We should give generously, without reluctance or force, trusting that as we give, God also gives to us.

Incorporating offerings into giving

So now you’ve learned about different types of offerings. Maybe you’re already a tither, but you want to step up your “giving game.” Maybe you just want to do more than you’re doing. How can you incorporate different types of giving into your life?

  • Whenever you start a new job, donate a special offering from your first paycheck as a firstfruits offering.
  • Once per year at a “beginning” in the year (January, the beginning of the spiritual year in April, your salvation anniversary, the church anniversary, etc.), make a special donation to the church for an upcoming project, an equipment purchase, or just to give a special offering as a firstfruits offering.
  • Practice the idea of a “second tithe” in pounding, by purchasing pantry/food items for a church’s pastor or minister.
  • Create “blessing bags” at your church to give out to your city’s homeless population.
  • Start a “dry goods” pantry with non-food items those in need require (washcloths, sanitary products, shampoo, socks, soap, face masks, etc.)
  • Volunteer for a specific local program that assists with need in your area (feeding program, homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter, etc.)
  • Give gently used clothing to a local charity
  • Donate books to a literacy program

What other offerings can you think to make?

About Lee Ann B. Marino
Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino, Ph.D., D.Min., D.D. (”The Spitfire”) is “everyone’s favorite theologian” leading Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z as apostle of Spitfire Apostolic Ministries. Her work encompasses study and instruction on leadership training and development, typology, Pneumatology, conceptual theology, Ephesians 4:11 ministry, and apostolic theology. She is author of over thirty-five books, host of the top twenty percentile podcast Kingdom Now, and serves as founder and overseer of Sanctuary International Fellowship Tabernacle - SIFT and Chancellor of Apostolic University. Dr. Marino has over twenty-five years of experience in ministry, leadership, counseling, mentoring, education, and business. You can read more about the author here.

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