March 5, 2011

The Tithe

Not long ago, one of our church attendees approached me. He wanted to ask a question about my message. It had evidently gotten him thinking, and he wanted my input. He went on to say that for some years now he had been giving only a portion of his tithe to the church, dividing the rest among a variety of para-church ministries. He wanted to know how I felt about this. My answer of course was that how I feel is of little consequence. What really matters is what the scripture says. In the Old Testament, in Malachi 3:10, scripture clearly says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, 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." In the New Testament, Paul instructed the church at Corinth (I Corinthians 16:2) to give each week on the first day of the week, and they were to give at their local church. While para-church ministries may have many wonderful aspects, they cannot and should not be expected to replace the local church. It is the local church that reaches people. It is the local church that assimilates them into Bible studies and into the fellowship. When people need someone to visit them in the hospital, to bury their loved one or to walk with them through a difficult time in life, they turn to the local church, especially the local church pastor. While the teaching and preaching of para-church organizations may be wonderful, you cannot find one of them in scripture; in scripture what you will find is ministry being done by and through the local church. There are many reasons people would rather give to things other than their local church. Perhaps chief among them is the element of control they feel when they give ‘their’ money where ‘they’ want to give it. When they begin to see it as God’s money they will have no problem giving according to a biblical model - tithing through their local church.
As I told the brother who asked the question, my understanding of scripture leads me to the firm conviction that the Lord has already told me where my tithe belongs. My tithe and my offerings belongs to my local church. May God give you the faith to trust Him in this area of giving and the understanding of His word which will help you see this issue more biblically.