Before I explain why those who say “you should tithe where you are fed” get it wrong, I need to remind you of what the church is and why it matters to God. To do that, let’s take a look at:
Acts 20:28 (AMP)
Take care and be on guard for yourselves and for the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd (tend, feed, guide) the church of God which He bought with His own blood.
Firstly, we see that God regards all who receive salvation in Jesus as His church and clearly they matter so much to Him that He gave His Son Jesus as sacrifice to redeem them.
Secondly, we see that God’s plan and purpose for all believers is that they be part of a local flock where He appoints shepherds over them for the purpose of feeding and nurturing them spiritually. This divine arrangement is what we refer to as the local church. So local church is God’s idea.
To clarify our third observation, let’s look at:
Hebrews 7:8 (AMP)
Furthermore, here [in the Levitical priesthood] tithes are received by men who are subject to death; but in that case [concerning Melchizedek], they are received by one of whom it is testified that he lives on [perpetually].
Here, the author is speaking to new covenant believers, comparing old covenant tithing to new covenant tithing, emphasizing that Jesus as our new, superior and eternal high priest is the one who receives our tithes beyond the cross. Meaning that tithing continues not by commandment of old covenant law but in response to new covenant grace.
So thirdly, we observe that God destined for the local church to be sustained by the financial support of those who are part of that local church, which is what the portion in Malachi talks about:
Malachi 3:10a (AMP)
Bring all the tithes (the tenth) into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house,
The old covenant temple is also a type and shadow of the new covenant local church. This is where we, as new covenant believers are to bring our tithes. But there is a deeper, often missed point that God makes here; Notice it says “so that there may be”, in other words “tithe so there will be”, not “tithe because there was”! This is where those who say “tithe where you are fed” get it wrong!
The purpose for tithing is not because you had spiritual food but to continue having spiritual food. We tithe to keep the work of the gospel going through our local church and not as a payment or reward for past service rendered!
We don’t tithe out of self-gratification but to impact and bless those around us with more of what we ourselves have been blessed with through the ministry of our local church.
Those who say “tithe where you are fed” promote a gratuity-based mindset to tithing and not God’s heart for the support and ministry of the local church. Tithing is about empowering the local church for future and ongoing ministry, not for previously rendered ministry. God does not want the believer’s approach to the local church to be like that of a restaurant, where you pay after you’ve been fed. If anything, God wants us to approach the local church like a pantry, understanding our responsibility in making sure that it is always provided for and empowered to continue with the work of the gospel!
That said, we also need to acknowledge that there are local churches which do not teach gospel truth like they should or they embrace unscriptural customs and doctrines. In cases like these, I encourage folks to first and foremost address their concerns directly with the leadership of that church. Alternatively, find another local church where gospel truth is taught and practiced.
God never intended for non-local church ministers and ministries to compete with the local church, instead He intends for them to compliment and support the local church. Sadly, few do that today, especially those on television.
Ultimately, as believers, God wants us not only to be part of a local church but also propagate gospel through our local church. The more we support our local church financially, the more it will be empowered to impact our own lives and the lives of those around us as God intended.
In my experience, I find that those who say “tithe where you are fed” are generally those who do not pastor a local church, who seldom (if ever) promote the local church and have no real understanding of God’s heart for the local church. Their rationale is “if I feed you spiritually, then you should tithe to my ministry”, in other words, “pay me for service I render to you” and as we have seen, that is not God’s intent or purpose for the tithe.
Marco Bravo (Pastor, New Creation Church)