Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.
–Malachi 3:10

Bob Russell told about a group of church members who went to Romania. When they got there, the Romanian Christians were depressed. They said, “The government has restricted us to giving only 2.5 percent of our income to the church. But we want to tithe, so we are looking for loopholes so we can give what God wants us to give.” Isn’t that amazing? These poor Romanians were looking for loopholes so they could tithe. At the same time, many people in America are looking for loopholes so they don’t have to tithe.

Did you know the Jews had three different tithes? Under the law, there was the Levite tithe, or the Lord’s tithe (Leviticus 27:30). That first 10 percent went to support the temple and the priests. Then there was a second tithe, called the festival tithe (Deuteronomy 12). This additional 10 percent paid for all the celebrations the people would have. Then, every three years there was a third tithe that was used to take care of the poor (Deuteronomy 14). Every year the Jews tithed 23.3 percent of their income. And that doesn’t count free will offerings, temple taxes, and other things. If a poor Jew living off the land can give almost 25 percent, then can anybody really say that we ought to give anything less than 10 percent? In America, we are wealthy compared to the rest of the world. The tithe isn’t the ending place, but it is the starting place of real giving.

God also tells us the place that we are to give. You may say, “I know I am supposed to give to the Lord’s work, but there are so many good institutions out there. How do I know where I am supposed to give my tithe?” God answers that question. He says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” (Malachi 3:10). In Deuteronomy 14, we find a very simple principle: the place of giving is to be the place of worship. Giving is an act of worship, so it only makes sense that the place we give is the place we worship. In the Old Testament, it was the temple. In the New Testament, it is the local church. The local church is the storehouse in which we give.

God also addresses the priority of our giving. Our giving to the Lord ought to be the first expenditure we make every month. God said, “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God” (Exodus 23:19). The “first fruits of your soil” is your income, your produce. Some people say, “I tithe my time at church.” Or, “I tithe my talent to the Lord.” We are all to use our spiritual gifts for the Lord. But we are to give God the first fruits of our income. People say, “I will see how the month goes, and if I have anything left over, that is what I will give to God.” If you wait until the end of the month, then you are not going to have anything left over. Giving is an act of faith. That is why the first check we write every month ought to be to God’s work. When we give first of all, we are saying, “God, I am giving You the first portion of my income because I believe that if I am faithful to give You what belongs to You, then You will provide the rest.” That is why giving the first fruits is an act of worship.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Beginning Place for God’s Blessing” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.