"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.