Where is the biblical ...

Anonymous asked:

Careful contributionsWhere is the biblical evidence for the teaching of storehouse tithing? I know that most pastors cite Malachi 3, but is this really talking about tithing to our local churches?

Why can't we give our tithe to missions?

It seems to me that if we did, then there would be way more missions done even though there may be less big churches being built in the States.

My husband and I want to strongly support missions and do. However, we have just moved to France and haven't settled into a church yet. It seems to me that tithing to support missionaries and missions organizations would be more beneficial than giving to local churches.

I guess we do need to give to the local church in order to keep it running, but can't we give some of our tithe to missions too?

What do you think?

Jack Answered:

When one reviews all that the Bible has to say about “tithing,” one comes to realize that in different time periods (pre-Mosaic, Mosaic, Monarchy, Exilic, and post-exilic) the whole issue of tithing became increasingly complex.

The payment of a tithe for the support of the “clergy” (Levites and priests) came to expand to include gifts to the poor and even a meal with the Levites at the Temple. The aim of all tithing was to acknowledge that all we have comes from God, to whom belong “the earth and the fullness thereof.” You make reference to Malachi 3:10, where the people in a post-exilic context are reminded of their duty to bring "all the whole tithe into the storehouse."

In the New Testament, we see hints of people supporting their teachers. In Philippians 4:10-20, Paul the missionary makes some reference to this churches supporting him financially in every verse, and Jesus notes the importance of Christian workers depending on the gifts of faithful people for their sustenance (cf Lk 10:7 “the worker deserves his wages”).

However, “for several centuries in the early Church there was no support of the clergy by a systematic giving of a tithe. In time the tithe came to be regarded generally after the pattern in the Jewish synagogue.”[1]

Paul makes mention of collecting an offering from the Corinthians (1 Cor 16:1-3) for famine relief for their fellow believers in Jerusalem. He suggests the principles of setting apart a sum of money each week according to how the Lord has blessed each one, though no percentage or figures are mentioned. However, in contrast to the Old Testament, no laws are laid down for giving.

I think we can discern some basic principles in all this data:

- All we have belongs to God and we need to look to Him for guidance in the investment of our goods.

- God means for his church to be supported by its members.

- At times church workers are paid, other times they are volunteers.

- We are to consider the needs of the poor.

- The aspect of a percentage (10%) was given in the Old Testament for God’s people. I think it is still a helpful guide today, though the Lord may well ask more of us as He blesses us.

As for dividing one’s resources between the congregation we attend and the missions concerns we have, we note different approaches historically.

- In some churches, the faithful are encouraged to give their “tithes and offerings” to the congregation which divides them according to a plan given by the leadership and often voted on by the congregation.

- Some congregations have printed “duplex envelopes” in which individuals can decide for themselves what percentage they would like to give to either the support of the church or “benevolence” (missions, the poor, etc.), but both go through the congregation.

- Some (particularly pastors) feel strongly about giving one's“tithe” to the church, and then “offerings” to other needs (such as missions or the poor).

- Some feel the Lord calling them to divide their tithe with the congregation and other ministries.

- God challenges us to “test” Him, promising to bless us when we are faithful (Mal 3:10). I like Corrie tenBoom’s application of this verse: “I give to God and He gives to me, but his shovel is bigger than mine.” We also hear the statement, "we can't outgive God."

My own personal opinion is that we should generously support the church we attend. However, we may well be drawn to the needs of specific ministries (para-church organizations; individual missionaries; special needs of the poor) which we feel the Lord is calling us to invest in.

I trust these thoughts will be helpful to you, Rachael. May the Lord guide you as you do what you feel God is calling you to.

Jack

[1] Feinberg, C.L. “Tithe” in Merrill C. Tenney (Gen Ed) The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Zondervan 1976).

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