Tithing to the Local Church

We Must Invest in Our Local Church

The Scriptures teach that our tithes should go to the local church. In support of this statement, let’s take a closer look at Malachi 3:7-15, as well as the New Testament method of giving as outlined in I Corinthians 16:2.

The book of Malachi was addressed to Israel by the prophet Malachi and chapter 3, verses 7-15 relate Malachi’s prophecy concerning Jehovah God’s third dispute with the people of Israel, which concerned their keeping of the statutes of the Lord.

In spite of the abundant evidence of their sin and the gracious promise of blessing in response to their repentance, the Israelites incredulously asked the question, “…Wherein shall we return” (i.e., in what particular shall we return)?–Malachi 3:7a.

This question gives God, through his prophet, Malachi, the occasion once again to spell out Israel’s sin in specifics, i.e., “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me” (v. 8). When the people asked, “Wherein have we robbed thee?” the Lord, through his prophet Malachi, answered, “in tithes and offerings” (v. 8b).

The payment of tithes and offerings was a recognition of Israel’s subjection to God and a recognition that God owned them and all that they had. To withhold the tithe was to renounce the sovereign authority of God and be guilty of the same sin as Lucifer was guilty of in the beginning of Creation–a failure to recognize the sovereignty of God and be in subjection to Him (v. 8).

Verse 10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…” The Word “all” is emphasized, indicating that this was the primary area of fault with Israel–they were withholding that which rightly belonged to God for what seemed good reason to them–economic hard ties (v. 11).

These adverse conditions and spiritual lethargy were the results, not the causes, of their failure to tithe. The whole nation of Israel did not recognize its obligation incumbent upon it because of the love God had bestowed upon it in choosing Israel for His own (Malachi 1:2-3).

Christians Are Support Their Church

While there are many references to tithing found in the Old Testament (some of which are Leviticus 27:30-33, Numbers 9:26-28, Deuteronomy 12:18 and 14:28-29), it is interesting to note that “tithes” are never mentioned in the New Testament. Nowhere in the New Testament is it suggested that the believer is to give ten percent of his income. Why? Jesus demands more stewardship than merely the precise compliance with the tithe. He sanctions at least the practice of tithing (Matthew 23:23; cf. Luke 11:42). Though stewardship may include more than the tithe, it is never less than the tithe.

The New Testament measure for giving is summed up in I Corinthians 16:2, which says, “upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…” The New Testament teaching of giving refers back to the Mosaic law (see Genesis 14:18-20 and Hebrews 7:9).

This passage teaches that giving is to be regular (“Upon the first day of the week”); all-inclusive (“let every one of you”); systematic (“lay by him in store”); and proportionate (“as God hath prospered him”).

While the “storehouse” referred to in Malachi 3:10 is a reference to the chambers in the Temple where the tithes were brought (see Nehemiah 10:38; 13:12), there is a principle of bringing the tithes and offerings to the house of God to support the work of God. In this sense, believers today should bring their tithes to the local church of which they are members, to support the work of the Lord in and through the local church. The principle of giving outlined throughout the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is storehouse tithing, “that there may be meat in mine house.”

This does not mean that believers today cannot support other ministries of the Lord than their local church; however, this should be in the nature of gifts made in addition to our tithes. If the Lord lays it on one’s heart to give to other ministries and has so prospered that person, certainly that person should follow the Lord’s guidance. If we do this we are not to be concerned about how the money is used because we are giving in obedience to the Lord. The offerings are given unto God, even though they may be sent to ministries other than your local church.

The Lord tells us to “…prove me now herewith … 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” (Malachi 3:10b). The New Testament is more concerned with the motive in giving–“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

It is possible for one person to give ten percent and still rob God, if God has prospered that person greatly. In other words, twenty, or even thirty, per cent might not be as sacrificial for one person as ten percent is for another person of lesser means. The blessings of God would not come because God gets ten percent of our wealth (or twenty or thirty percent) but because in giving the tithe we are in the place of subjection and obedience to God. God blesses His children, not because we give our tithe, not because we give it to the local church, not because we give offerings and gifts to various ministries, BUT because in our cheerful giving, in keeping with the measure that God has blessed or prospered us, we are giving testimony of our obedience, subjection to, and dependence upon God.

Luke 6:38 tells us, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Lastly, tithing is not limited to money. It also applies to the way we spend our time. We should spend much time in God’s Word, in assembling ourselves with other Christians, in witnessing, in ministering to the needy–in whatever area of Christian service the Lord can best use us. What if every believer tithed 10% of his time to the Lord’s service? Just think how many more lost people could be led to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Spoke About Financial Giving

The subject of finances is found throughout the Bible. Jesus Himself, in His teachings to the disciples, often taught on giving and receiving.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).

In this passage, the principle Jesus taught is that we cannot possibly outgive the Lord. Whatever we have, all our substance truly comes from God’s goodness and rightfully belongs to God. But as we unselfishly give a portion of our substance back to Him, through a ministry that is representing God, then He is always more generous in returning it back to us again. Often, this return comes from other people or investment returns which God blesses.

Cheerful Giving is the Key

Every Christian who is a cheerful giver knows both the joy of giving unto the Lord and also knows the joy of receiving God’s blessed provisions.

“…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b).

I encourage you to place your entire needs in the care of the Lord through faith and prayer, believing that God is able to provide all your needs.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

God WILL Meet Your Needs

God promised to meet all our needs, not all our wishes, wants, or whims. The greatest need man has is the need for salvation and forgiveness of sin. This need has been met through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

All a person has to do to have salvation is recognize Jesus Christ as God and accept Him as their personal Savior. After a person is saved, they should determine to live pleasing unto Christ by being like Christ everyday.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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