Giving is a central theme in the Bible. Scripture encourages and commands believers to be generous with their resources and to give to God, others, and the work of the church. There are several different types of biblical giving mentioned, each with distinct purposes. Understanding the various forms of giving found in the Bible can help Christians become more faithful stewards and generous givers.
Giving demonstrates our gratitude to God for his blessings and provisions in our lives. As 1 Chronicles 29:14 (NKJV) states, “all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You.” Giving also reflects God’s generosity and grace toward us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).
As believers, we are called to emulate God’s generosity by freely giving to others. Jesus said “Give, and it will be given to you…For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 NKJV). The apostle Paul also emphasized the importance of giving, encouraging the Corinthians to “give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NRSV).
There are several distinct types of biblical giving. Each form of giving serves specific spiritual purposes and brings glory to God when performed with a joyful heart.
- Giving demonstrates gratitude to God and reflects His generosity
- Believers are called to emulate God’s generosity by freely giving to others
- There are several distinct types of biblical giving, each with spiritual purposes
The tithe was a form of giving mandated under Old Testament law. A tithe meant giving 10% of one’s income or increase to support the work of the Levites and the tabernacle or temple.
Several verses establish the tithe as a requirement for God’s people under the Mosaic covenant. Leviticus 27:30 (NKJV) states, “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 to the Lord.” Other references to mandated tithes include Numbers 18, Deuteronomy 12:6-7, Deuteronomy 14:22, and Malachi 3:8-10.
The purpose of the tithe was to support the Levites, who were called to minister before the Lord by doing temple service and sacrifices. Since they did not receive land as an inheritance like the other tribes, the tithe provided for their needs. The tithe was also used to meet the needs of aliens, orphans, and widows (Deuteronomy 26:12). Bringing the full tithe to the temple storehouse demonstrated obedience, faithfulness, and reverence for the Lord. Withholding the tithe was considered robbing God (Malachi 3:8).
While the tithe was an Old Testament mandate, many Christians today give at least 10% of their income in gratitude to God. The tithe can be seen as a baseline or starting point for generous biblical giving.
- The tithe was 10% of income given to support the Levites and the tabernacle/temple
- Tithing demonstrated obedience, faithfulness, and reverence to God
- The tithe provided for ministry needs and helped the vulnerable
- Many Christians today give at least 10% as a baseline for generosity
In addition to the tithe, the Bible teaches that God’s people are to bring voluntary “offerings” to Him. These offerings expressed worship, thanksgiving, and devotion to the Lord.
There were several types of offerings described in the Old Testament:
Burnt offerings: These were voluntary acts of worship, offered on the altar to atone for unintentional sin and demonstrate complete surrender to God (Leviticus 1, Leviticus 6:8-13).
Grain offerings: These were gifts of the best grains, given in gratitude and dedication to God (Leviticus 2, Leviticus 6:14-23).
Peace offerings: These offerings expressed thanksgiving and fellowship with God (Leviticus 3, Leviticus 7:11-34).
Sin offerings: These were required offerings for the cleansing of unintentional sins (Leviticus 4, Leviticus 6:24-30).
Guilt offerings: These offerings made restitution for sins against holy property or people (Leviticus 5:14-6:7).
While these specific offerings are no longer needed after Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross (Hebrews 10:1-18), we can still give God “offerings” today out of grateful and worshipful hearts. This can include gifts of time, talents, resources, and money to the work of the Lord.
Romans 12:1 (NKJV) instructs believers to present their bodies as a “living sacrifice” to God, which is our spiritual act of worship. We worship through generosity by giving offerings out of reverent and devoted hearts.
- Offerings in the Old Testament expressed worship, thanks, and devotion to God
- Burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt offerings were given with specific purposes
- We worship today through generous offerings from grateful hearts
- Our “living sacrifices” take the place of former physical offerings
Another important type of giving in the Bible is almsgiving, or providing aid to the poor and needy. Caring for the poor reflects God’s compassionate heart and his commands to show mercy.
The Psalms and Proverbs frequently connect caring for the needy with righteousness and pleasing God:
“Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.” (Psalm 41:1 NKJV)
“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” (Proverbs 14:31 NKJV)
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.” (Proverbs 19:17 NKJV)
Almsgiving could include providing food, clothing, shelter, or money to assist struggling people. God promises to bless those who generously care for the poor.
In the New Testament, Jesus emphasized almsgiving as an act of compassion and justice:
“When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3-4 NIV)
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail.” (Luke 12:33 NIV)
Alms should be given generously and secretly, not for show. When we give to help those in need, God promises reward.
- Almsgiving provides aid to the poor and needy
- Caring for the poor reflects God’s compassionate heart
- Alms should be given generously and secretly
- God promises to bless and reward those who give alms
Sowing and Reaping
A final important biblical principle related to giving is the concept of sowing and reaping. This refers to investing generously into kingdom purposes and seeing it multiply by God’s grace.
2 Corinthians 9:6 (NKJV) states, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously will also reap generously.” When we sow financial “seeds” by giving to ministry efforts and needs, God often allows them to produce spiritual fruit and blessing in return.
For example, when churches and ministries use donated funds wisely on evangelism, discipleship, and meeting needs, people’s lives are transformed by the gospel. The sowing of generous giving reaps a harvest of changed lives.
As Galatians 6:9 (NKJV) encourages, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” While we may not always see immediate results, generosity and faithful giving to God’s work results in Kingdom fruit over time.
This agricultural principle emphasizes that we reap proportionate to what we sow. The more generous the sowing, the greater the harvest of blessing. This provides motivation for lavish Kingdom giving.
- Sowing and reaping refers to investing generously into Kingdom purposes
- When we sow financially, God often multiplies it to produce fruit
- Generous giving results in greater Kingdom impact and blessing
- We should sow abundantly while trusting God for the harvest
Throughout Scripture, we see God’s people giving faithfully to fulfill God’s purposes through tithes, offerings, alms, and generous sowing. Giving is an act of worship that reflects God’s generous heart.
As believers, we are called to give freely and wholeheartedly, not under compulsion but out of grateful hearts. When we honor God through giving, He promises to meet our needs, reward our generosity, and multiply the harvest as we sow Kingdom resources wisely. May we become cheerful givers who sow abundantly to see the work of God advance for His glory.