Giving should not be legalistic (e.g., tithing only). Nor should it be anti-legalistic (anti-tithing). Jesus spoke to both of these when He said in Luke 11:42, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”
Do not neglect tithing. Tithe lovingly, ungrudgingly, and not legalistically. Consider the tenth a minimum, not even thinking of it as your own money. Take it off the top of your income and give it to one or more of the areas mentioned above.
It could be seen as “better stewardship” to give to a corporation which has an IRS-approved, non-profit, tax-deductible status. However, if you are giving in order to get, the blessing of the Lord will not be in your giving. Another difficulty with restricting your giving this way is that the widows, orphans, and aliens may not be approved by the IRS. The Bible teachers and missionaries may not be approved, either.
Western Christians have automated giving to make it efficient. Although there is the legitimate issue of giving anonymously, giving impersonally can mean giving without love. If giving is a source of pride or seeking merit, remember Matthew 6:1-4: “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Most people give to the places that express needs and that ask them to give a certain amount. If everyone limited their giving to the call for money, the missions who believe that they have no biblical basis to raise money for themselves that way would never receive support.
There is a teaching that applies the “storehouse” of Malachi 3:10 to the local church, i.e. your “whole tithe” must go to the church you attend. This contradicts the Bible’s teaching on other places for giving tithes to:
“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lordyour God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 14:22-29).
Give lovingly, give personally, give prayerfully.
*Excerpted from Being Christian. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.