"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 there will not be room enough to store it." - Malachi 3:10
To answer the question, "Why should I give?" The answer always has to begin with the truth of good stewardship. Good stewardship is the recognition that we don’t own anything we have. We work hard for the resources we earn in our jobs and through other means, but ultimately our skills, talents, abilities and the resources that come from them are from nothing less than God and His grace. Because we don’t own anything, we owe everything. Additionally, our giving is a reflection of our past, present, and future with God. It's a reflection of our gratitude for what God has done in our past, thankfulness for what He is doing now in our life, and anticipation and trust in Him for our future.
Secondly, we should define clearly the concepts of “giving” and “tithing”. There is a difference between giving and tithing and God calls us to both of them. Giving to Christian/non-christian causes outside of the local church, while they may be good places that your financial resources are going to, isn't tithing. The local church - the bride of Christ - is the primary recipient of Christian "tithing". There is no prescription in scripture as to how much we should "give" to Christian/non-Christian causes outside of the local church, other than giving generously. God does give some direction to believers with regard to "tithing" to Him through His bride - the local church.
The idea of tithing a sacrificial offering to God in recognition of His lordship and provision goes all of the way back to the Book of Genesis. Giving a “tithe” (10%) of our "first fruits" or income is the Biblical standard that is established in the Old Testament (see Genesis 14:19-20, Genesis 28:22, Proverbs 3:9, Leviticus 27:30, Deuteronomy 14:22, Malachi 3:10). Central to the biblical view of tithing in the Old Testament, was the Temple. The Temple was God’s primary way of extending His grace to Israel. The people’s tithing went to the priesthood, the daily functions of operating the Temple as well the distribution of the offerings to the various needs of the community around the Temple.
Jesus affirms the concept of tithing in the New Testament (see Matthew 23:23). There is no prescripton in the New Testament about how much we should give to the Church post-Cross. The consistent message of the New Testament is that followers of Jesus are called to be generous with their giving to the Church. Because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, while their is no required amount, ten percent is a great goal and a starting point. Additionally, like grace, we should strive to exceed what the OT law required. It also provides a good guideline to evaluate whether or not we are being generous in our giving, and being self-less or self-centered. Central to the biblical view of tithing in the New Testament and today, is the local church. Jesus’ bride - the local church - is God’s primary way of extending His grace throughout the world, so our faithful and generous resourcing of the local church through tithing is tantamount to the outpouring of God’s grace in the church, in the community, and throughout the world through global partnerships.
A biblically faithful church doesn't just want your money. A biblically faithful church wants you to grow and bear fruit, which happens through our obedience to Jesus, and that includes giving and tithing. With that said, it's important to understand that our giving and tithing doesn't benefit God. He doesn't need our money. God commands that we give and tithe because it benefits us! We shouldn't give and tithe legalistically, but with joy and gladness because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. God blesses us and teaches us through our obedience in giving and tithing. 2 Corinthians 8-9 is a great place to go to have a biblical understanding of generosity and why we should give and tithe. When we give and tithe, it is a grace from God to somebody else, He sends His grace through us (2 Corinthians 8:1). We should give and tithe because Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that we by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). We should give and tithe because through our generosity, God will multiply the resources He is giving us in some way (2 Corinthians 9:10). He will also increase the harvest of our righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:10). We should give and tithe because being generous enriches us (2 Corinthians 9:11). We should give and tithe because being generous produces thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11). We should give and tithe because it glorifies God (2 Corinthians 9:13).
Biblical stewardship isn’t asking, "How much do I need to have everything I want?...and then God gets what is leftover". Biblical stewardship is asking, "How much can I return to God, and then after knowing that, how much do I have left to have everything that I need?" Obedience to Jesus always comes at a cost. But did you know there are more promises in the Bible about generosity than anything else? Why? Because God is a giver. Malachi 3:10 (that verse at the top of this page) is the only place in the Bible where God essentially says, "I dare you"! Good stewardship is intentionally orienting our lives so that we live in obedience to Jesus, so we can be as generous as posible, and so we can be blessed as much as God wants to bless us.
We also recognize that it is more difficult than others to reach obedience in this area. With that said, we would always encourage those having difficulty, to evaluate their weekly/monthly budget (click HERE for some helpful tools), start small, watch God work, and progressively orient their life to steward themselves and their finances towards obedience to Jesus. Giving is a step of faith for everyone, some more than others, but the fruit of generosity for everyone is waiting!
Equally as important to individuals’ stewardship of financial resources, is the call on church leadership to be faithful and exercise good stewardship in how they receive and distribute the offerings. If you have any questions and would like more detail in how offerings are distributed throughout the church and outside of the church, start off by reaching out to us at email@example.com!