Most individuals and denominations have their own ideas on what constitutes acceptable giving to God.  However, there is one basic, fundamental, fact the remains.  Most if not all religions practice giving to their deity.  Another corollary is the fact that giving was always a vital part of their worship.  This was so among the Greeks and barbarians of the first century as it was among the Jews and Christians whose worship was and is based on the Bible.

Those who consider themselves Christians have a responsibility to give to the church (1 Corinthians 16:2), as well as to give as an individual to those in need (Galatians 6:10), especially fellow Christians.  In New Testament times this individual giving is called "alms." Jesus pointed out that our alms giving was to be private.  He said, "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (Matthew 6:3-4).  It was to be done in secret that God would reward us openly.

Tithing, on the other hand, was what was given to God.  Jacob, after his vision of "Jacob's ladder," vowed to Jehovah, "of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee" (Genesis 28:22).  Both Jacob and Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20) indicate tithing was practiced long before the Law of Moses was given by God at Sinai.  It would seem obvious that the Jews converted to Christianity in the first century would continue the practice of tithing.  As James and the elders pointed out to Paul when they arrived in Jerusalem, "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law" (Acts 21:20). 

In contrast to the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, Christianity demanded disciples become a living sacrifice.  As Paul expressed it, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).  This sacrifice is accomplished by not being conformed to this world but by being transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). When this becomes a reality in the individual's heart, giving as one is prospered is no longer a problem.

The pattern of giving in the New Testament is pretty well laid out in 1 Corinthians 16.  The early Christians assembled themselves together on each Sunday (the first day of the week) to observe the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7).  They were, each one of them, to give in proportion of their prosperity on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). 

Dale I. Royal, Elk City, OK