Summary: This sermon is the second in a two part series which answers six common questions about tithing.
Last Sunday I began a two part series entitled "Questions about Tithing." Today, as we conclude this study I want to ask and then answer the last three (of six) questions about tithing. With that in mind lets look at three verses of scripture from Malachi 3. "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, `In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,’’ says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.” vs. 8-10 NKJV
Fourth question: What is the place to give your tithe?
In Malachi the place to carry the tithe was the storehouse. The storehouse was exactly what the name implied. They stored food and other items in the storehouse. This material was used in providing for the priests.
In studying the Bible you will find that people contributed their material possessions at other locations, depending on the historical context. In Mk. 12:41-44 we read about an occasion when Jesus sat and observed people bringing their gifts to the Temple. He watches as people drop their gifts into the treasury. By His actions He acknowledges the temple as a worthy place. With the temple as His stage Jesus teaches the importance of sacrificial giving. Jesus indicated the rich people were bringing gifts to the temple from their overflow. Jesus highlighted the actions of a poor widow who gave a sacrificial gift at the temple. Jesus did not rebuke her for giving at the temple. Jesus did not criticize the temple.
In Acts 4 we find another location where people gave. In verse 35 the believers brought their gifts and laid them at the apostle’s feet. The apostles were the administrators of the believers gifts. At that point there was no organized church group. They trusted the apostles to manage their gifts.
Where should the tithe be given? I want to share my belief. I believe the regular, proportionate and disciplined giving of your tithe should be through your local church. Why do I believe this to be true? I believe this to be true because of the exalted position of the church. Consider these verses.
"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28 NKJV
“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” Eph. 1:22-23 NKJV
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it“
Eph. 5:25 NKJV
“I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” I Tim. 3:15 NKJV
In addition, about 1/3 of the New Testament books are written directly to local churches. Other New Testament books are written to address issues that were affecting local churches.
You may ask, is it okay to give my tithe to support a television ministry or some other ministry outside of the local church? My answer would be, no, the local church is the depository of the Lord’s work. I admit there are many organizations that are a part of the body of Christ. The universal church consists of all believers of all denominations and of all evangelical work. However, Jesus entrusted the local church to be the steward of His work. It is okay to support other ministries but the tithe should support “the body of Christ.”
Fifth question: What is the Purpose of tithing?.
A. In Malachi they gave to support the priests. The priest represented God and God’s work (vs. 10). God’s work is not limited to supporting clergy. It is supporting evangelistic endeavors. It is supporting missionaries. It is supporting relief efforts such as Katrina. It is teaching Bible studies and discipleship studies. It is providing a place to worship. It is providing discipleship literature. It is providing Vacation Bible School for children. The only way to build a consistent, purposeful work for God is for God’s people to be consistent, disciplined and regular in their giving. It cannot be a hit or miss proposition.
Ill- Some years ago a man named Edwin Bond contributed a story to a magazine that perfectly illustrates this point. Mr. Bond said a minister went to the shop of one of his members to get a haircut. In the course of conversation the minister suggested that, since the barber’s business was prospering, he hoped the church could count on his liberal support of the budget. This seemed to irritate the barber. “All I hear is money, money, money!” he exclaimed. “I think a person should give what he pleases instead of hearing about all those systematic and proportionate amounts you’re always preaching about.” The minister said nothing, but when the haircut was finished he gave the barber thirty cents. The barber declared with indignation that it wasn’t nearly enough. The minister said, “I thought I should give as I felt inclined.” “But,” the barber protested, “I can’t pay my expenses if people just give me any amount they happen to have in their pockets.” Producing the rest of the fee, the minister said, “Neither can the church carry on the Lord’s work unless the people appreciate his blessings and give back to him what is rightly his.”