Jan 19th, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 61 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be talking about tithing. We’re going to cover a fair amount of scripture in this episode, so if you have trouble focusing while I’m reading you scripture then get to a place where you can block out distractions, pour a cup of coffee, or crack open an energy drink and let’s get going.
For the most part, I don’t directly choose what topics we cover in this podcast. I pray, listen to The Holy Spirit, and try my best to follow the unction that I get from The Lord. I’m not oblivious to the fact that this process can be, and is, influenced by my theology and worldview. I also believe that The Holy Spirit inspires us, all of us, to ministry that is in line with growth: our own personal growth, and those within our sphere of influence. All of that to say that we haven’t committed a lot of time on this podcast to talking about money, and we’ve never used this ministry platform to solicit donations. If you’re going to donate money to us or some other ministry or church then it should be because you’ve decided between you and God in your heart that you’re going to give, and not because we talked about giving.
So, tithing, if you’re not aware, it’s this concept that believers give the first ten percent of their increase to God through their church. You get a paycheck, your bank account increases and you give ten percent to God through The Church. Historically, when this was instituted in the Old Testament, the entire tithe given, minus the offerings burnt to the Lord, went to supporting the priests serving in the temple so they could focus on ministry. The priests then would give ten percent of what they received back into the temple to be used to support ministry. Today things look very different. Despite it being the biblical standard, if your church tried to use all of the tithes it received on paying its staff and then the tithe of the staff on the work of the church, it would get shut down by the government or at the very least lose its nonprofit status, assuming it survived public opinion long enough to get to that point.
With only ten to twenty-five percent of the average church congregation tithing, it clearly isn’t a popular thing to do. It doesn’t likely constitute the whole statistic, but from millennials forward, the idea of donating money to a church is almost a foreign concept. In defense of tithing let’s first turn to Matthew 22:17-22, it says, “ Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"  Perceiving their malicious intent, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, hypocrites?  Show me the coin used for the tax." They brought him a denarius.  "Whose image and inscription is this?" he asked them.  "Caesar's," they said to him. Then he said to them, "Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."  When they heard this, they were amazed. So, they left him and went away.” On its face, this looks like an endorsement of paying your taxes, which it is. But, it’s also an endorsement of paying your tithes. Malachi 3:8 CSB, it says, “ "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!" "How do we rob you?" you ask. "By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions.” The tenth, or tithe, belongs to God. What did Jesus say, “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Ceasar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Malachi 3 starting in verse 10 goes on to say, Malachi 3:10-12 CSB “ Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. (That’s The Church, His house.) Test me in this way," says the LORD of Armies. "See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.  I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit," says the LORD of Armies.  "Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land," says the LORD of Armies.” I don’t know about you, but having the floodgates of heaven opened, the devourer rebuked for my sake, and my work to be guaranteed to produce fruit sounds like quite the tradeoff for giving God His ten cents on the dollar. Even if that is an over personalized reading of that scripture, anywhere between that and if the intent was one of nationwide effect, I benefit from the tithes that I pay.
It’s not wrong to interpret that in a personal way though. In Luke 6:38 CSB, Jesus is recorded as saying, “ Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure-pressed down, shaken together, and running over-will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." With Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 CSB reinforcing this personal benefit, “ The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.  Each person should do as he has decided in his heart-not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.”
There’s the old adage, “put your money where your mouth is.” If you’re a Christian then you should be putting your money where your mouth is, you should be tithing. Not only does your tithe support the church, but Proverbs 3:9 CSB says to, “ Honor the LORD with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest;” If you claim to love God and follow Jesus, then honor the Lord with your tithe.
The modern church is hobbling along trying to fulfill its calling while missing seventy-five to ninety percent of the support its biblically supposed to have from believers. Meanwhile, those with the responsibility of carrying the mantle of those churches are splitting their time between ministry and working one or more jobs outside the church to survive. When we turn to the first part of 1 Corinthians 16:2a CSB, we read, “ On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he is prospering,” In context, that verse comes about in the instructions to a church concerning donations from a specific situation where Paul was planning on traveling for ministry, but it reinforces the biblical precedence that as Christians we have a personal and community-driven duty to be tithing.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”