Give your best, first

Malachi 3:10 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 you will not have room enough for it.

Giving is not always included in material about spiritual disciplines for Christian life, but it is important not to neglect this discipline.  Nowhere else in Scripture does God tell His people to test Him.  When we are told to give as a test of the Lord’s goodness, we can believe that He will live up to His promises.

Take note:  giving is not about money.  The Sovereign Creator of the universe does not need your dollars and cents.  He wants your devotion, your obedience, your love.  He wants your life to be about Him and that means not holding on to earthly things.  He wants to be first in your life.  By giving the first of your finances, the first of your time, the best of your affections, you are showing God that He is first in your life.  And that doesn’t just have to be the “tithe”.

Tithing is not about the numbers.  Some bicker about how much one is to tithe (10% of gross income vs 10% of net income, etc).  Ideally, we would all give much more than just 10% of our income.  It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7, Mark 12:41-44).  There is no set number on how much to give, but there certainly is a command to give (Malachi 3, Numbers 18).

The principle to remember in this discipline is that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).  We must give God our best, first.

  • Let’s look at Malachi 3. First, who is God speaking to – the priests or the people?
    We need to study the entire Book of Malachi rather than take a few verses out of context.

    By the time we get to verse 6 in chapter 1, we see it is the priests that are being addressed at that point.

    In both chapters 1 and 2 of Malachi there is a conversation going on between God and the priests. Every time the word "you" is used, it is referring to the priests. Chapter 3 continues with this conversation. In verse 5 God says "And I will come near to you to judgment….." In the Old Testament, during this period of time and generally speaking, only the priests could get near to God. It is only in the New Testament that born again believers, you and I, can get close to God. So up to chapter 3 verse 5, God is speaking to the priests. The word "you" is still referring to the priests. There is nothing in the scripture to indicate this changes when you get to verse 8. But that's not all.

    Read Numbers 18:29-30 and then read Malachi 1:14. Those verses explain robbing God of the offerings. The PRIESTS, not the people, robbed God of the offering by giving to God the worst instead of the best.

    In Nehemiah 13 we are told that the priests stole the Levites portion of the tithe; therefore, they had no food to eat at the temple, and they went back to their own fields.

    Therefore, taking the Levites portion of the tithe is the robbing God of the tithe. Or to put it another way, THE LEVITES WERE ROBBED. God said He was robbed because the tithe was not taken where God directed.

    Next, in Malachi 3:10 God says to bring all the tithes to the storehouse. The people took the tithes to the Levites who lived in the Levitical cities, not to the temple. The Levites took the required tithe of the tithe to the temple. (See Nehemiah 10:37-38) Only those tithes ever made it to the temple. The priests then took those tithes to the storehouse. It only makes sense if God is speaking to the priests in this verse.

    Since in Numbers 18 God makes it perfectly clear that the tithe belongs to Him, and He gave it to the Levites, anyone who takes God’s tithe to their local church must also be robbing God since the Levites are not the ones getting it.

    I see no way around this. Either the tithe ended per Hebrews 7:18, OR those who take God’s tithe to their local church must be robbing God since God gave clear instructions where to take His tithe. There is nothing in God’s Word to show that God ever changed those instructions. Therefore, the only conclusion I can reach is that taking a tithe to your local church is NOT paying the tithe to God. It is giving it to man. Nowhere in God’s Word does He give permission for the Christian Church to receive His tithe.

    OLD TESTAMENT – THE FIRST OF THE FRUITS SHOULD GO TO GOD
    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV) “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”

    NEW TESTAMENT – THE WORKER SHOULD BE FIRST TO RECEIVE A SHARE OF THE FRUIT
    2 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

    When was the last time you heard a pastor say that you should spend the FIRST part of your income on yourself and your family?

    1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

    The New Testament makes it clear that we are to use the FIRST of our income to take care of ourselves and our family. We are talking about needs, here, not just anything we want. Then we should give generously from what is left.

    In Leviticus 27:30-33 God defined His tithe. It is neither the first nor the best. Read verse 32 – the LAST one out of ten is to be tithed, whether it be good OR BAD.