What Is the Difference Between the Christian Tithes, Offerings, and Alms?
Giving is an important aspect of the Christian life. Money represents both your life and where your heart is. If you earn 10 dollars an hour then a 10 dollar bill represents one hour of your life. When you give that same 10 dollars to God, you have, in fact, given God 1 hour of your life. This is why giving for the Christian is so important.
In addition, where you put your money, your heart follows. So if you invest in the things of God, your heart will be in the things of God. God knows this.
Luke 12:34 - For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Because of this, there are three types of monetary giving that the Bible speaks of. They are: tithes, offerings, and alms. Here are the distinctions:
Tithing is literally a tenth. Malachi 3:8 speaks of robbing God by withholding your tithes. God asks for 10% of your increase. This 10% was meant to fund the work of God (Numbers 18:24). It is given by the Christian as something that already belongs to God.
Leviticus 27:30, 32 - And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
Giving less than 10% is not tithing. Giving more than 10% is more than a tithe; only the 10% can be considered a tithe.
Offerings are exactly what it implies. There is no set amount to make it an offering. It is anything over the 10% that God requires that you decide to give because of your love for God and your thankfulness for what He has done for you.
Deuteronomy 16:10 - And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
An offering is something you decide. The amount is not set. It is given according to the blessings you believe God has blessed you with. This offering is given to the work of God as well. It is a way you say, 'Thank you!'
Alms are monetary, or things you have purchased, that you give to someone in need. It is your decision to help the poor, to meet the needs of the needy, and to love your neighbor.
Acts 3:2 - And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
This, again, is something you determine to do. There is no set amount, no determining factor except your own heart.
Proverbs 19:17 - He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.