As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In less than a month, we will be celebrating His birth.

“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” —John 18:37

What does that have to do with giving?

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. —1 Corinthians 12:27

We are part of the Body of Christ, His Church. It is incumbent on us to support and sustain Christ’s Church; our church.

To assure that support and sustenance, from a Sunday School lesson years ago[1], we can learn much about supporting the church. One thing is this: “Despite the system of Cromwell’s England and traditions of many churches today, there is no direct New Testament teaching that requires tithing. Paul taught the Corinthians to give willingly, generously, and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:5-7) in proportion to what one has (1 Corinthians 16:2), but he did not specify a percentage.” The lesson points out that “biblical doctrine of tithing is therefore based on Old Testament passages, and many Christians do not see these as binding on the church.…the most famous passage about tithing is found in the Book of Malachi, in which we are told to prepare for the coming of the Lord; do not worry about “when,” for it is a certainty that it will happen. That certainty extends to the return of Christ.

Malachi asks “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, How are we robbing you? In tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8) Malachi points out that what we have belongs to God, but that He allows us to keep 90 percent of it. “When we give an offering at church today, we may be tempted to view it like a parent giving a child an allowance, or like a taxpayer dutifully writing a check to the government. Malachi’s understanding flows in the opposite direction: all the sheep are God’s to begin with, yet he claims only one-tenth. For an ancient Israelite to tithe was God’s permission for them to keep the other nine-tenths. Therefore, to withhold the tithe was not a lack of generosity but outright thievery—a taking of that which belonged to another.”

At the time the lesson was published, an estimate was that the average churchgoer gave about 3 percent. “Another study claims that if this would rise to 10 percent, then American Christians ‘could evangelize the world, stop the daily deaths of 29,000 children younger than 5 worldwide¸ provide elementary education across the globe and tackle domestic poverty—and have $150 billion left over annually…More conservatively, however, think what would happen if that 3 percent level of giving increased only to 4 percent: funding for ministry would go up by a whopping one-third!”

What if we were to forego certain luxuries we may be accustomed to awarding ourselves and tithe to the Lord. Would we lose something?

Malachi answers, “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 there will not be room enough to store it.”

“God promises to bless those who give freely and in full measure,” the lesson concludes.

Our church budget is formulated by considering our obligations and our goals for ministry both within and without. Our obligations include salaries, utilities, insurance, building maintenance and the like, and are a significant part of the total budget, which annually is around $150,000. If all of us give at a tithing level rather than just the average 3 % level, our giving to outreach and internal ministry could increase by a vast amount!

If you already have pledged and do not want to increase your pledge this year, consider tithing, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

[1] God’s Prophets Demand Justice, Unit 3, Advocates of Justice  for All, Lesson 13