by Guy Muse
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." -Malachi 3:8-10
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Jesus (Matthew 6:33)
The last book of the Old Testament is emphatic that Jews were robbing God unless they brought the "whole tithe into the storehouse."
The very next books in the Bible, the Gospels (Matthew-John) resound with the theme of THE KINGDOM. Little is said by Jesus about the temple except, "...not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
Jesus himself is introduced in the early chapters of the Gospels as traveling throughout Galilee "preaching the good news of the kingdom." The kingdom theme is mentioned nine times in just the first six chapters of the opening book of the New Testament. Jesus himself brings the matter to the forefront with the first command he issues to his disciples, "seek first the kingdom."
While there is no denying that Malachi 3 storehouse giving is biblical for Jews living under the Old Testament Law of Moses, Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom, not the superiority of the temple system. The very "storehouse" that the Jews were to bring the "whole tithe" was destroyed in 70 A.D. Since the temple no longer exists in Jerusalem, it seems strange to continue to insist from the Malachi passage that NT believers are robbing God if they no not bring their "whole tithe" into their local church offering plate.
How is it that we are able to twist the Malachi passage into saying something that it does not say?
Like many, I was brought up with the understanding that 10% of what one receives should be given back to the Lord through one's local church as our "tithe." Anything beyond the initial 10% is considered "offering money." We are free to give our offerings to other kingdom causes, but the "tithe" goes intact to one's local church.
But does "storehouse giving" align itself with Jesus command to SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM? Are local church budgets, programs, buildings, parking lots, salaries, maintenance, etc. synonymous with Kingdom interests?
To me, the Kingdom is the broader sphere of Christ's reign. While storehouse giving can certainly be in line with Paul's admonition to give what one purposes in his heart (2 Cor.9:7), it should not be seen as the one and only biblical way of giving. For me, kingdom giving trumps storehouse tithing.
If storehouse tithing gave way to kingdom giving, the argument goes that our churches and programs would crumble overnight. The whole structure of church-as-we-know-it would collapse.
Would this be a bad thing?
Undoubtedly things would be terribly chaotic for many of us, especially for those like myself who depend upon storehouse tithing/giving to pay our bills and feed our families. But I am convinced that after the dust settles, there would be a dramatic surge forward towards the fulfillment of Kingdom purposes in all spheres of life. We would finally begin to make giant steps forward in making Christ known amongst the nations.
Yes, some people, ministries, churches, organizations would suffer and probably die off within days. I am not saying it would be pretty. Many of us would suffer the consequences of this upheaval. But others, who have long been neglected or underfunded, would flourish with fruit bearing 30,60, and 100-fold.
As a missionary, I see lots of pain, suffering, disease, violence, poverty, and hopelessness. Within the Body of Christ we have all the human and financial resources to meet the needs around us. Yet, very little gets to where it is most needed. Why? Our resources are 90-98% tied up in in-house use. What would our world look like if churches held back between 2-10% for internal use and gave 90-98% to Kingdom causes in the world?
The time has come for kingdom giving to become the norm for Christ followers. This doesn't mean we neglect or turn our backs on those who serve us in the Lord, but it does mean we get serious about seeking first the kingdom, rather than seeking first the needs of our local storehouses.