Matthew R. Perry

Are You a Storehouse Tither?

In Church Life, Devotional on March 2, 2006 at 9:20 am

[This is a tract I gave to the members here at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, but may it be a reminder for us as well. — MRP]

Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need (Malachi 3:6-10, ESV).

“What is a storehouse tither?” Well, in our language today, we would say it is the tither who gives an undesignated tithe. See, there are many who give contributions to special items such as missions, special offerings for those who are in need, or even to the building fund (just to name a few) and they designate those gifts to go to that certain fund. And as wonderful as those gifts are — and as much as God loves the cheerfulness in which that gift is given — this is not a storehouse tithe.

A storehouse tithe is a tithe that is undesignated, given to what’s called the general fund. You see, when tithes were first instituted in Numbers and Deuteronomy, they were given to help the Levites (that is, the priests) to help them in their spiritual ministry and in the upkeep of the Temple. This tithe was to be brought into the storehouse of the Temple for use for any needs (both physical and spiritual) that may come up in the course of their day-to-day ministry. When the people were obedient and gave their storehouse tithe, the ministry of the Temple flourished. When they were not, it was the result of the people’s disobedience and the ministry of the Temple disintegrated.

The same is true in our day. We are a New Testament church who are still commanded to give their storehouse tithe and to give it first and to give it fully. Remember, “Bring your full tithe into the storehouse.”

This is an imperative, not an option. We have our nice homes, our bells and whistles, our nice clothing and jewelry, we fund our hobbies, we finance our habits — but where is God in the equation. For many, the question isn’t, “Is God first?” For many, we have to get to the point, “Is God anywhere at all in our money?”

What happens when we do not ‘storehouse tithe?’

1. When we do not storehouse tithe, we are running from God.

Look with me at Malachi 3:6 and the first half of verse 7:

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

God shows us His immutability. God never changes. How He was in the past is how He is now is how He will be in the future. In other words, He is faithful. And this attribute is polar opposite of how Israel was during Malachi’s time.

If you read through Malachi, you see God having a conversation with His people. He tells them first, “I have loved you.” But Israel looks around at their poor, rundown condition and their lack of prosperity and then asks, “God, how have you loved us?” They could not see the evidence of it.

He then tells the priests and the religious leaders in 1:6, “You have despised my name.” The priests, who felt they were doing everything just fine thank you very much, asked God back, “How have we despised your name?” They felt they were offering the right sacrifices and doing all the right things. But they were offering blind, lame, and blemished animals rather than the very best. God even says, “You wouldn’t offer your civic leaders this, would you? But you do Me.

In Malachi 2:10, God shows His anger toward Israel for joining with unbelievers in marriage and thus were “joining themselves to a foreign god.” Plus, in that day, divorce was rampant — they did not remain faithful to their vows. Yet the people could not understand why God was not showing His favor toward them. They were not being faithful to God nor to each other.

Next, God says, “You have wearied me with your words.” Israel again asks, “How?” Israel had spoken of how God was unjust. They felt they were the epitome of faithfulness and godly morality, but God wasn’t blessing them. Yet those around them who were evil (that’s everyone else but them, you see) were prospering. They were saying, “God is not just.” God reminds them that the day of the Lord, the day of judgment is coming. Then you will see how just I am.

Then He says, “But what about you?” In verse 5, God condemns them of sorcery; adultery; false testimonies; swindlers; extortioners; disregard for the needy, the widow and the fatherless!

Is this not a picture of today? Worship by routine, corrupt clergy, blindness to one’s unfaithfulness, believing God should bless even while we are in open sin, disregarding God — until something goes wrong, then He’s to blame! We change our devotions constantly. During one part of our lives, we were on-fire for the Lord in sincere worship and service — but now we may have changed! We shrug our shoulders at sin, we do everything godly by the motions, church and worship become less appealing. We change!

But God doesn’t. Because of God’s faithfulness and patience, we are not consumed. In every generation, those who call themselves His people change. And we may in our thoughts see these as awful issues, but by not tithing, do we see that this is a sin comparable to all those mentioned throughout Malachi?

2. When we do not storehouse tithe, we are robbing from God.

During one Sunday morning service at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, then-pastor Hershael York stood behind the pulpit during the middle of the service and began to speak. He said, “Dear church family, there is something that has come to my attention that I as your pastor must deal with. I regret doing this during a Sunday morning service, but since this is when most of our church family attends, this seems to be the best time. I apologize to those of you who are guests with us this morning, but I must take care of some family business.

“It seems that someone has been stealing from the Lord’s treasury.”

As you can imagine, all the air went out of the room. You could have heard a pindrop in that rather large sanctuary. Dr. York went on: “I feel the need to tell you that I personally am not guilty of stealing from the Lord’s treasury, and neither are any on staff here at Ashland Ave. But I fear there are many in this room who are guilty.” You can imagine how they were beginning to shift in their seats looking around at who may look guilty.

Then he dropped the bomb: “We are stealing from the Lord in our tithes and offerings.” With that, the air came back in the room and people seemed relieved. Many thought, “Wow, that was a good one, preacher. You really had us going there for a minute.” And slowly people began to talk with one another and then came laughter as if to say, “Wow, I’ve been had!”

Yet Dr. York stayed behind the pulpit and then said, “I can see from your reaction that you do not see this as a very serious matter. But to God, it is of the utmost seriousness. Do you want to be convicted of robbing God? I don’t.”

You know, some folks got upset with Dr. York over that. But when you look at this passage, is he not right? The passage reads as follows:

[8] Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed
you?’ In your tithes and contributions. [9] You are cursed with a curse, for you
are robbing me, the whole nation of you. [10] Bring the full tithes into the
storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test,
says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and
pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need (Malachi 3:8-10).

Just like when they asked, “How shall we return?” with an attitude of, “We’re already devoted to you already,” so too they asked, “How have we robbed you?” “We’ve offered the sacrifices, we come to the temple, we do all these things — how have we robbed you?” The answer?

“In your tithes and contributions.” That is, God’s people were not bring a tenth of the resources that God had provided them and were not bringing them into the storehouse. They were robbing Him of His due! It’s even happening now! The average church member contributes between 1.5% and 2.5% of his total income specifically to the Lord’s work.

This issue is simply a symptom along with the other problems to a deeper situation — and that is the sin of unbelief! Lack of faith in being a storehouse tither stands right along disengaged worship, corrupt preachers and clergy, unfaithfulness to your marriage and friends, and blindness to your own sin even while you point out the sins of others.

3. When we storehouse tithe, we receive the blessings of God!

In our upside-down world, we buy our bells and whistles first. So many fund their hobbies and their habits and give them priority. Then we buy our clothes so we look good, feast on our food. Then we take care of our home and pay the bills (if there’s any money left over from that). Then Sunday rolls around and we are reminded of the offering time, we think, “Oh man, I can’t afford to tithe — I don’t have any money.”

You know what God is saying here? He’s saying, “You challenge Me! Take Me at My word and see what I will do. Come on! Test Me! Remember, I don’t change!

And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Those of you who are familiar with the Scriptures may remember a time when Jesus, as He was tempted by the devil, told him, “It is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7, cf. Deuteronomy 6:16). Satan was trying to manipulate God into sin so Satan would get the glory. Here in Malachi, God is challenging His people to taking Him up on His Word.

Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to give God what is due Him — the full tithe into the storehouse?

Copyright © 2005 by Matt Perry, Boone’s Creek Baptist Church. 185 N. Cleveland Rd., Lexington, KY 40509. (859) 263-5466. Copy as many as needed. http://www.boonescreekchurch.com . All Scripture references are from the English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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  1. good discussion,

    First, I would argue that you need to show me a temple before you can require a “storehouse tithe”. This seems like an exegetical leap to call us Israelites, call pastors Levites, and call a church organization the temple.

    Second, I don’t agree with the tithe for New Testament believers. Now I would be just as hard as you on people that are not giving generously but I find no specific pegged amount in Matthew on. Rather we are called to be faithful with what we have and that means giving it to needs. I will quip in that we are so rich that its embarrassing so 10% is such a cop out. If anyone is not at least giving 10% I think that its pretty easy to conclude that that person is miserly and hording up wealth to spend on their own desires.

    How much money do we really spend on essentials in this country? Food, basic shelter(not mansions of glory), water, and medical.

    We ought to be a generous people who certainly spend less on our luxuries than others necessities. How can we love our neighbor as ourselves if we buy a $40,000 car while our neighbors in Africa are starving?

    On the flip side how can we spend $200,000 as a church to buy new cushions to sit on (when the old were still usable, though ugly) when our brethren around the world don’t even have Bibles, surely few hymnals, and many do not even have a bare building.

    We need to be faithful individually and corporately. If a church is being a poor steward of finances.. spending vast sums of money on its parishoners and giving meager sums to our poor brethren I think we would be unfaithful stewards to lavish (indirectly) that money on ourselves. (better yet leave that church)

    Those be my thoughts.

  2. Traveler:

    Thanks for the post. When the tithe was to be brought in, it was to be brought in to help the Levites who did not have a tract of land to inherit. It was to take care of their needs and to help the Temple function. Is it a stretch to say this is what helps the individual churches function — what is given by those who come to worship? I don’t think it is. But that’s as far of a comparison as I will take it.

    Good thoughts — and thanks for holding me accountable. It does me and all of us good.

  3. Good point…

    Levites were dedicated (holy to God with regard to their service) like pastors are today. I think I can second that there is a principle there. The question is how specific can the principle be? I think unquestionably the principle includes that followers of God need to support those who are dedicating themselves to ministering unto God. This means that the needs at the home church should be met(like you are saying). But can we draw the 10% out? Kinda seems like a stretch because that specificness does not apply to kinds of free will and first fruit sacrifices (principle there being we ought to hold our posessions as stewards with gratefulness)

    Additionally there are other specified taxes and levies that we don’t interpret as applying to today.

    I think its a bit too bold to say “10% turn or burn!!” I think 10% is a great suggestion but the widow put in more than 10% when she put her two mites in, the apostles and their followers went and sold everything for the cause of Christ.

    Let us not negate the greater commands though in favor of an inference from the OT. Let us love our neighbor as ourselves. How can we say to the starving African children.. “go and be filled” and blow $80 on DVD’s? The Devil is filled with greater love. This should be our hill to die on in our culture. This is where it will rain destruction if we demand biblical obedience. Let us not call for giving to build our church buildings… let us urgently and forcefully that pew sitters love their neighbors and not with words only but in deeds.

    Woe are we if we let people sit contentedly so little as 10% while a world is dying.

    Great discussion…

  4. Matt: A must read for you is “Should the Church Teach Tithing” by Dr. Russell Earl Kelly, (Ph.D.) a Baptist…you can read the whole book on line (truthforfree.com)…all 279 pages…excellent read.
    and
    “Pagan Christianity” (The origins of Our Modern Church Practices) by Frank Viola…excellent read. It will open your eyes to the history of church traditions.

    Rick Morrison

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