Malachi 3:10(KJV) 10Bring 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 our study of divine prosperity, we have been looking at the practice of paying tithes. The Lord may this practice a part of the law, but it actually predated the law. Abram paid tithes to the priest Melchizedek. This was long before Moses and the law. Why would he give this man, who Abram recognized as a priest of God, 10 percent of what he had obtained in battle? I believe it is because Abram understood paying tithes to God and his representatives as part of his relationship with God. This would indicate that the practice of paying tithes had been known since the days of Adam.
The tithe is the first ten percent of an individual’s income. The Bible uses the word increase. Any kind of income that brings an increase into our lives is subject to tithe. I pay tithe to God on every kind of income I make. I have a salary from our church. I pay tithes on that. If I receive an honorarium for speaking somewhere other than our church, I pay tithes on that money. If there is some other kind of offering that brings increase to me personally, I pay tithes on that offering. I believe that this practice keeps my financial life protected from the curse that came because of the fall of mankind.
To whom are we to pay our tithe? We know that the invisible God cannot receive our visible tithe. We also know that God does not need our money. Therefore, the question remains, to whom do we pay our tithes. Today’s verse gives us some insight. The Lord tells Israel to bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be meat, or food, in his house.
Under the Law of Moses, the tithe was brought to the priests and placed in storage rooms until it was needed. In the New Testament, we do not have priests or temple storage rooms. What is the storehouse for our tithe? A storehouse is the place from which you are fed. In modern vernacular, we might call it a cupboard. In my house, we have a cupboard, a freezer and a refrigerator. It is in these storage facilities that I store my food. When I need to eat, I go to the storehouse and get something. What is the storehouse for our spiritual food?
I believe the place where our spiritual food is stored should be the local church. Many believe the tithe should be given to any place from which we receive spiritual food. However, I get physical food from places other than my storehouse. I often eat in restaurants. When I do, I am not eating from my storehouse. I am eating from someone else’s storehouse, or cupboard. I do not pay them with my “storehouse” money. I pay my bill from other money.
If you receive spiritual food from sources outside the local church, you need to pay for that food. I believe you pay for it by purchasing the material or giving an offering. However, the tithe belongs to your storehouse, not to the restaurant or outside source.
Why do I make this distinction? We are going to take some time to look at the purpose the Lord gives for the tithe this week, but for now let me say that God has established a system to support the ministry. He speaks of tithes and offerings. The tithe is specifically for the storehouse. I believe the storehouse must be the local church. I say this because your storehouse is designed for you personally.
Have you ever been in someone else’s home and looked in their refrigerator or cupboard? There will be things in there that you would not have in your storehouse. I hate mushrooms. I know many of you love them but I just cannot stand them. I do not like how they look; I do not like how they feel. You might ask, “Do you dislike the taste?” I have no idea. I cannot get by how they look and feel. You may think that is silly or irrational. That may be so, but you will not find mushrooms in my storehouse. It is my storehouse and it contains what I like.
I am not saying that we can pick and choose the food God gives us to eat, but I am saying that our storehouse contains food prepared by the Lord for our needs. My wife cooks what I like. However, she also gives me what I need. We have both lost a considerable amount of weight recently. This has caused a bit of a change in our lifestyle. In order to keep the weight off, we need to eat fewer calories than we used to. To accomplish this, my wife cooks much differently than before. My storehouse contains what I need and my wife prepares the food for me.
The local church is the storehouse for you spiritual health and well-being. You may receive good spiritual food from other places. It may be helpful to you and strengthen you at a given time. However, the leadership of the local church seeks God for exactly what you need at all times in your life. They know you. God has placed them in your life to teach, encourage and strengthen you. They are your storehouse.
The restaurant may make great food. It might be a specialty that you cannot make at home, but it is not made for you. The restaurant makes food for anyone who wants it. If it meets your needs, that is great but it was not prepared to meet your needs. The food you get at home was prepared for you. It contains the ingredients you want and need to satisfy you.
The local church should fill that role in your spiritual life. If does not, than you should not be there. That does not mean if the pastor has a bad week you should leave. It does mean that if you are consistently unfed or uncared for, you should take you tithe and your presence to somewhere that will care for and feed you. I am not afraid to tell our people that if this church does not deserve your tithe it does not deserve your presence.
I believe this is a wonderfully designed system. The tithe makes the ministry of the local church possible. Ten percent of everyone’s income that receives ministry from the local storehouse is not an unreasonable or inequitable amount. At the same time this system serves as a check and balance for those who do the work of the ministry. If they do not provide for those under their care, they should not receive the tithe. If they consistently fail to meet the needs of those for whom they have the care, they will not survive long in the ministry.
If you are not part of a good local “storehouse”, I encourage you to find one. If you are part of one, bring all your tithe to that storehouse. By doing so you will ensure that you will have ministry designed by God to consistently meet your ministry needs. You will also ensure that others around you whose tithe may be less than yours will have the special care they need to grow in the things of God. God’s system works when God’s people simply obey.