What is the different between tithes and offerings? The reason for this question is, when you pay tithes can you ear mark it for an item like a piano etc.? In my opinion that is like telling God what to do with your tithes. I would think that if you wanted to specialize on what you want your money used for, then it should be an offering rather than tithes. Another point is when you pay your tithes is it the churches’ responsibility to decide on what to do with the tithes? Please straighten me out.
Malachi 3:8-10 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In TITHES AND OFFERINGS. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the TITHES INTO THE STOREHOUSE, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
You will notice from the above verses that God expects His people to tithe (to give a tenth of their income back to Him – Genesis 28:22, “and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”), and He also expects His people to give offerings. In fact, God considers it robbing Him if his people do not. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and OFFERINGS.”
You will notice that although it is robbing God to withhold from Him tithes and offerings, He specifically said that the tithes were to be brought into the storehouse. “Bring ye all the TITHES INTO THE STOREHOUSE.” It would be wrong to designate the tithes for anything specific, because the tithes are that which sustains the work of God. The tithes fed the priests. If a person designated a tithe for a musical instrument, that would not help the priest’s hunger, nor would it keep him alive.
Some people complain that that is taking an Old Testament passage, and trying to bring the church under the Old Testament Law. But the New Testament itself applies this same rule to sustaining the work of the church and its pastor(s). I Timothy 5:17,18 says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” The grain that was brought in, was to be partly for the sustenance of those doing the work — including the animals. Even so, this passage says, those who labor in the Word and doctrine (the pastor), is also worthy to be supported from the money brought into the house of God.
I Corinthians 9:6-14 says, “Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that THEY WHICH MINISTER ABOUT HOLY THINGS LIVE OF THE THINGS OF THE TEMPLE? AND THEY WHICH WAIT AT THE ALTAR ARE PARTAKERS WITH THE ALTAR? EVEN SO HATH THE LORD ORDAINED THAT THEY WHICH PREACH THE GOSPEL SHOULD LIVE OF THE GOSPEL.” The exact same principle is applied to New Testament preachers, as was to the Old Testament priests, in regard as to how they are to be supported.
So to designate a tithe for something specific, would be taking away from the money that should be used to meet the basic needs of the church. There must be leaders in charge of the distribution and care of that money, and for large purchases, the whole church should make the decision as to where and how the money should be spent. Paul was very careful not to get himself into a situation where he had to handle a large amount of money alone — where he could be accused of wrong-doing. II Corinthians 8:20,21 says, “Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”
When it comes to offerings, those are a part of our worship to God when we come before Him — that is why we give people the opportunity to give offerings every time the church meets. Deuteronomy 16:16,17 says, “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and THEY SHALL NOT APPEAR BEFORE THE LORD EMPTY: EVERY MAN SHALL GIVE AS HE IS ABLE, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.” Exodus 23:15 says “none shall appear before me empty.” Exodus 34:20 says “And none shall appear before me empty.”
So bringing offerings to the Lord is part of our worship of Him. Some will say, “But I cannot afford to tithe, and then to also bring offerings to the Lord at every service, too. I will go broke!” That is not true, because there is no set amount which a person must give as an offering. The widow gave only two mites, but Jesus said that she gave more than the people giving a lot of money. Mark 12:41-43 says, “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:” II Corinthians 9:7,8 says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”
As to designating offerings for specific things, that is up to the local church whether they accept and honor designated gifts. If a local church does not, and a person sees the need for a new piano, then that person could always just buy the piano and donate it to the church. The person could receive a donation receipt for the value of the gift to deduct on his income taxes, if that was a concern.