Monday, October 4

Kingdom Giving trumps Storehouse Tithing

"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, with Jesus himself bringing the matter to the forefront with the first command He issues his disciples to "seek first his 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 about the importance of the temple system. The very "storehouse" that the Jews were to bring the "whole tithe" was destroyed in 70 A.D. The Jerusalem temple no longer exists. Since the temple no longer exists in Jerusalem, it seems strange to continue to insist from the Malachi passage that NT believers are now to bring their "whole tithe" into one's local church. Is this consistent with sound hermeneutic Biblical interpretation principles?

If storehouse giving is still applicable to NT believers today, then it would seem all Christians should be giving to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, or at least to some future reconstruction of the Jerusalem temple. Yet somehow the Malachi passage gets interpreted to mean I am personally robbing God unless I give 10% of my income to First Christian Church of Peoria, Illinois--or whatever local congregation I am a member of in the place where I live.

How is it that we are able to twist the Malachi passage into saying something that it actually does not say?

Like many of you reading, 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" and we are free to give as generously to other kingdom causes, as long as the "tithe" goes intact to one's local church.

It seems obvious that if believers started to "tithe" to whatever kingdom causes they felt led to give to, the local church program and infrastructure would surely suffer--probably even collapse overnight. Or would it?

But does "storehouse giving" align itself with Jesus own 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 a much broader sphere of Christ's reign than just my local gathering of believers and how it is we decide amongst ourselves to disburse the collected tithes/offerings of local saints.

While storehouse giving can certainly 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.

But if everyone practiced kingdom giving, the argument goes that our churches and programs would crumble overnight. The economic system of financing 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 of us like myself who depend upon storehouse tithing/giving to pay our bills and buy our food. But I am convinced that after the dust settles from such a 9.0 magnitude earthquake by this transfer of assets from the storehouse to the kingdom, there would be a dramatic surge forward towards the fulfillment of Kingdom purposes in all spheres of life and 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.

To me there is little doubt the current storehouse financial system under which Christendom operates is crumbling. It would seem the Lord himself has allowed the current global economic crisis to set the stage for the next major shift in Christianity where storehouse tithing gives way to kingdom giving.

As a missionary, all around me on a daily basis I see need. I see pain, suffering, disease, violence, poverty, and hopelessness. Within the community of Christ followers in just the city where we live, there is ample human and financial resources to make a major impact upon not only this city but the nation of Ecuador. Yet, very little is being done. Why? All the resources are tied up within the budgets of maintaining local church ministries, programs, salaries, buildings, etc. When will we begin to break out of the storehouse giving mold that retains between 90-98% for our own use, and truly start seeking first the kingdom? What would our world look like if we retained between 2-10% for ourselves and gave 90-98% to Kingdom causes?

The prevailing Christian mindset wrongly assumes that if a believer is faithful to tithe to one's local church, the remaining 90% is ours to spend as we deem best upon ourselves. This flawed example has long been modeled by the very churches we give to week by week. The typical church retains 90-98% as it's storehouse "right" to spend how it deems best. 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.

14 comments:

Stan Meador said...

As always, a good and thought-provoking post.

To me, this is the crux of the misunderstanding:

"Are local church budgets, programs, buildings, parking lots, salaries, maintenance, etc. synonymous with Kingdom interests?"

Before God established the central location in Jerusalem the tithe was already in place. The tithe was to provide the livelihood of God's ministers.

Even when God established the central place, the tithe remained for the livelihood of God's ministers. The upkeep of the structure was paid for by the Temple tax - one day's wage per year per person.

Part of the problem is that the tithe is collected today but not used for the purpose for which God ordained it.

In the NT church we see the proceeds of the sale of land being laid at the feet of the apostles. We see famine relief funds laid at the feet of the elders by an apostle. They all met in homes so there was no "building upkeep" expense. All of the money given went into Kingdom purposed priorities - this was the "domain" of the apostles at whose feet the money was laid.

When our structures for church and leadership are not what they were in the New Testament is there any way we can do things today the way they were done then?

Rick Boyne said...

To drive the point home for Southern Baptists, point them to the Baptist Faith and Message article XIII on Stewardship:

XIII. Stewardship God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth.

As you can see, nowhere does it mention the word "tithe"!

I think (generally) that those who teach storehouse tithing don't have a full understanding of grace vs. law. No offense to anyone intended. Kingdom giving seems to be the example of giving in the NT. About the only time tithing is mentioned by Jesus is in a rebuke....

GuyMuse said...

STAN & RICK,

Good comments shared by both of you. I decided to go ahead and write this particular post due to increasing pressure our people are getting locally to give ONLY to their local storehouses. People are running around in fear thinking that if they give to anything outside their local church they are actually sinning. It is mind boggling to me the extremes going on in an attempt to control Kingdom monies.

I don't have any problem if a believer purposes in his heart that 2-5-15-25-50% of one's giving goes to one's local church. What bothers me is that people are being taught Mal.3 storehouse giving as binding upon NT Kingdom followers of Christ. There is a lot of what I consider to be false teaching about the whole area of church finances/tithes/offerings and who receives believers giving.

Thanks to both for adding to the conversation.

The Rayburns said...

Wow! talk about cutting the legs out from under you. Great Posts! I'm going to be meditating on the ramifications of this for a while.

GuyMuse said...

Rayburns,

You are exactly right in saying that there are huge ramifications to this shift from storehouse tithing to kingdom giving. May we all begin to mediate and reflect upon these matters!

Steve Pennell said...

Guy, what a great post. I agree with you 110%. It is inconceivable that God prefers to use our money to finance big buildings and endless staff and programs. Church is big business. Yet, I pastor and teach and preach. My world would also be rocked if what you are suggesting occurred -but I think I would welcome it; the Kingdom would definitely advance.

GuyMuse said...

Steve,

You write, "Church is big business..." Indeed it is, but the Kingdom is even bigger business! That is the problem, we are putting nearly all our eggs into local efforts, but God's Kingdom is global and not limited to the activities and membership of our local congregations which currently consume 90-98% of the resources!

bryon said...

Ahhhhh, my dear brother Guy! Pure in heart and one in whom there is no guile!

The things that Father is showing you is amazing!

Just a few thoughts. I will just throw them out there with no expounding, as that would take quite a while to do.

1. You will be hit with the argument from those who cite the fact that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek before the law was ever even implemented and how that "tithing" transcends old and new testament and should, therefore, continue today. That argument is easily enough dismantled but I won't take time to do so here. However, perhaps you should think/study/research it because it is a prevalent argument by those who dogmatically teach tithing.

2. The only thing Jesus ever placed in the same category as God in reference to worship was Mammon. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Today's church teaches that if you give me your money, we can do good things and establish the Kingdom. This is precisely the converse of what Jesus taught,(Matt. 6:33) Seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added. Jesus also modeled this principle in sending out the 12 and 70 to advance the Kingdom. One of the first things he said was, "don't take any money with you; not even a wallet." (my paraphrase.)

Later, he asked the disciples, "when I sent you out with nothing, did you lack anything?" The answer was "NO" yet they demonstrated the Kingdom to the extent that Jesus saw Satan fall from the sky like lightning. Money has nothing to do with the Kingdom and it hinders the Church of today from seeing, entering and demonstrating the Kingdom.

3. If you look in Acts 2 & 4, you see descriptions of the Church the Spirit birthed. Because the people had the same Spirit and were partaking of God's nature, one immediate result was that money meant nothing to them. Look at the phrases and the actions contained in those passages. This expression was no Apostle's plan or a man's vision of a giving program. It was a direct result of God's people partaking of the same Spirit and the result was "no one among them had need."

Just some food for thought, Guy. You are on the right track and I will be praying for you to continue as Father leads you!

Keep your peace!
www.theforerunnerministry.net

bryon said...

Ahhhhh, my dear brother Guy! Pure in heart and one in whom there is no guile!

The things that Father is showing you is amazing!

Just a few thoughts. I will just throw them out there with no expounding, as that would take quite a while to do.

1. You will be hit with the argument from those who cite the fact that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek before the law was ever even implemented and how that "tithing" transcends old and new testament and should, therefore, continue today. That argument is easily enough dismantled but I won't take time to do so here. However, perhaps you should think/study/research it because it is a prevalent argument by those who dogmatically teach tithing.

2. The only thing Jesus ever placed in the same category as God in reference to worship was Mammon. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Today's church teaches that if you give me your money, we can do good things and establish the Kingdom. This is precisely the converse of what Jesus taught,(Matt. 6:33) Seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added. Jesus also modeled this principle in sending out the 12 and 70 to advance the Kingdom. One of the first things he said was, "don't take any money with you; not even a wallet." (my paraphrase.)

Later, he asked the disciples, "when I sent you out with nothing, did you lack anything?" The answer was "NO" yet they demonstrated the Kingdom to the extent that Jesus saw Satan fall from the sky like lightning. Money has nothing to do with the Kingdom and it hinders the Church of today from seeing, entering and demonstrating the Kingdom.

3. If you look in Acts 2 & 4, you see descriptions of the Church the Spirit birthed. Because the people had the same Spirit and were partaking of God's nature, one immediate result was that money meant nothing to them. Look at the phrases and the actions contained in those passages. This expression was no Apostle's plan or a man's vision of a giving program. It was a direct result of God's people partaking of the same Spirit and the result was "no one among them had need."

Just some food for thought, Guy. You are on the right track and I will be praying for you to continue as Father leads you!

Keep your peace!
www.theforerunnerministry.net

bryon said...

Ahhhhh, my dear brother Guy! Pure in heart and one in whom there is no guile!

The things that Father is showing you is amazing!

Just a few thoughts. I will just throw them out there with no expounding, as that would take quite a while to do.

1. You will be hit with the argument from those who cite the fact that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek before the law was ever even implemented and how that "tithing" transcends old and new testament and should, therefore, continue today. That argument is easily enough dismantled but I won't take time to do so here. However, perhaps you should think/study/research it because it is a prevalent argument by those who dogmatically teach tithing.

2. The only thing Jesus ever placed in the same category as God in reference to worship was Mammon. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Today's church teaches that if you give me your money, we can do good things and establish the Kingdom. This is precisely the converse of what Jesus taught,(Matt. 6:33) Seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added. Jesus also modeled this principle in sending out the 12 and 70 to advance the Kingdom. One of the first things he said was, "don't take any money with you; not even a wallet." (my paraphrase.)

Later, he asked the disciples, "when I sent you out with nothing, did you lack anything?" The answer was "NO" yet they demonstrated the Kingdom to the extent that Jesus saw Satan fall from the sky like lightning. Money has nothing to do with the Kingdom and it hinders the Church of today from seeing, entering and demonstrating the Kingdom.

3. If you look in Acts 2 & 4, you see descriptions of the Church the Spirit birthed. Because the people had the same Spirit and were partaking of God's nature, one immediate result was that money meant nothing to them. Look at the phrases and the actions contained in those passages. This expression was no Apostle's plan or a man's vision of a giving program. It was a direct result of God's people partaking of the same Spirit and the result was "no one among them had need."

Just some food for thought, Guy. You are on the right track and I will be praying for you to continue as Father leads you!

Keep your peace!
www.theforerunnerministry.net

GuyMuse said...

Bryon,

Thanks for the good "food for thought". It is well received and appreciated. In regards to your #1, my problem is not with whether one purposes in their heart to give 5-10-15-20-50% of their "tithe" to the Lord, but WHERE believers are told it must go. Storehouse tithers say 10% MUST go to their local storehouse or we are stealing from God. It seems to me the OT storehouse must give way to the NT Kingdom that Jesus came preaching. Seek first the kingdom, means to me just that. Seek first--including with our finances--the Kingdom. The Kingdom is greater than the storehouse. It is broader and more extensive than one's local storehouse.

In your #3 the reason "no one among them had need" is quite simply they were giving to Kingdom needs which is giving where it is needed. It is hard to understand why there is any need amongst the Body of Christ if we were truly "seeking first" the Kingdom.

Arthur Sido said...

Excellent thoughts Guy. The idea of bringing our tithe into the storehouse, i.e. our selected local church, is an unquestionable doctrine and woe to the Christian who questions it.

Boe Parrish said...

Love your thoughts Guy!! Thank you!

Most business leaders give outside of the local church, because of so much waste inside the walls. Church leaders have a tendency not to be able to make the tough financial decisions because they fear the outcomes of how that may impact giving patterns, therefore they allow ineffective leaders and dead ministries to stay in place.

I know it's tough to make those difficult personnel decisions and evaluate each ministry on its own merit, but that is basic management 101.
If you can't see it, you can't measure it.
If you can't measure it you can't manage it. If you can't manage it you can't improve it.
Everyone deserves and expects accountability for fiduciary responsibility. There just doesn't appear to be enough leadership in this area of the church. If we can be more efficient and faithful in our daily and weekly ministries, we would be given charge over so much more.

Eliminate dead, unfruitful, staff and ministries, and innovate and add kingdom outward focused ministries that that should bring more health and resources into the house. May we be like David when he had to halt giving because he had more than enough to build the Temple for the presence of God.

J. Guy Muse said...

Boe,

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Would love to meet you someday when we are Stateside. My wife and I both have lots of family living in OK, not to mention that I am a James Taylor fan myself when it comes to music!