Giving...


I know of some churches that prohibit a pastor from talking about today’s topic—-truly! They do not allow it.  Others limit the message to once a year.  And this sermon will probably turn someone off today. But God, Jesus and the prophets —-it’s about your money and what you are expected to do with it. You’ve earned it, saved it, invested it, been careful with it, and so on. But you earned it with life, breath, talent, mind and abilities He gave you. We are His handiwork.  All that we have is His—and He holds us accountable with what He gives us.

It’s been said that a man’s checkbook tells more about his character than any else. And it’s not a matter of having a lot or having a little—it’s what you do with what you have.  But I would warn you about what you don’t do with what you have—that’s the message today.

Hear these words from Malachi:  “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 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. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.”  Malachi 3:6-12

About 70% of us in this nation claim to be Catholics or Protestants.  If we all tithed,  churches and Christians ministries in the USA, would have $1.6 trillion to use to further God’s kingdom on earth.  Do you know how much that is?  Well, one dollar bill weighs about one gram. So, 1.6 trillion dollar bills weigh 1.6 trillion grams. Convert grams to pounds and you're looking at about 3 billion pounds or the weight of over 1,000,000 mid-sized cars.  

 

We’re not tithing like this as a nation, are we?  In churches in America, only 5% of us tithe. I do—-what about you? I am not bragging, I could also tell you that I don’t steal. I say both of those things as a testimony to my love of God and my attempt to adhere to His commands—-not to draw attention to me.  Do you tithe?  And if not, what’s your excuse?

 

God does not change and neither do His principles and demands upon us. Martin Luther, the great 161h-century Reformer once quipped; "Every man needs two conversions: The first of his heart and the second of his pocket book.”  What’s sad, is that the last thing to be made different in many believer's lives is their attitude toward wealth and the requirement to make a tithe to God.

I was told a story about a new convert. On the day of his baptism, his wife told him that before they headed down to the river, that he had better remember to take his wallet out of his back pocket, or he might forget and ruin everything in it. The husband replied, "No, I plan to keep it with me because I want my pocketbook baptized with the rest of me.”

The principle of tithing is as valid today as it was when God revealed His will to the Prophet Malachi: God is immutable - He does not change nor do his principles. so why do 95% of believers fail to trust God in this area of their life?

As a nation, and a people we are cursed when we do not abide by His principles with our money.  Malachi said: ”You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you." (Malachi 3:9, ESV)

  1. THE PROMISE IF THEY COME BACK
  2. God says, "Test me in this thing... and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and 
  3. everything belongs to God, not just 10%
  4. God owns everything and we are His managers

# when we tithe we are being good mangers of all that God has given us

tithing helps us to resist materialism and selfishness

tithing helps us to be less self-centered and focus more on God as the creator of the earth and all that is in it

B. Second, Christians are encouraged to tithe because blessings are dependent upon our obedience

the Scripture clearly teaches that God desires our obedience in bringing the tithe and offerings to His storehouse

it also seems to be clear that obedience leads to His blessings

Malachi exhorted the people to give tithes and offerings to God as a means to receive His blessings

we become a witness of God's goodness when we bring the tithe into the storehouse

When asked whether-or-not he tithed, John P. Rockefeller responded, /"Yes, I tithe, and I would like to tell you how it all came about. I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. My first wages amounted to $1.50 per week. The first week after I went to work, I took the $1.50 home to my mother and she held the money in her lap and explained to me that she would be happy if I would give a tenth of it to the Lord.

I did, and from that week until this day I have tithed every dollar God has entrusted to me. And I want to say, if I had not tithed the first dollar I made I would not have tithed the first million dollars I made. Tell your readers to train the children to tithe, and they will grow up to be faithful stewards of the Lord."

 

But a few quick points:

First, God does need the tithe——even though it’s His, since the beginning of mankind’s existence, He’s required this of us. We’re supposed to give back to the Lord for the help of His work across the globe.  But He’s not poor—-instead it’s really a matter of trust. Do we believe that God will take care of us if we give Him 10%?  Do we believe that He will bless  us if we give 10%? Do we really believe that to without a tithe is to be a thief?

 

Second, Jesus never says, “You must tithe”, nor do the apostles, but it was clearly understood that we would tithe and even go beyond a tithe as followers of Jesus Christ.  Jesus would not have us tied to or chained by money or belongings. It’s fine to have money and land and cars and tractors, etc.    But if you hold it too tightly it becomes your god.   It is unthinkable, from the standpoint of the cross, that anyone would give less under grace than the Jews gave under law.” Think about the incredible promise God made to those who give to His work. He will “open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10–11).

 

Here’s what Jesus does say about money that should speak volumes about how we are to regard holding onto it too tightly:   “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”   Matthew 5:4, NIV.  I’ve heard a lot of Christian experts talk about the danger and even the evil of borrowing or being in debt, but Jesus was clear about this: It’s okay to give to people that ask for help and it’s okay to loan money.  The idea is not to contribute to a person’s bad habits or laziness, the focus is really upon the giver——don’t be so tied up with what you own and earn. Share, give and help those in trouble.

Later, this is what John said: “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”  1 John 3:17, NIV.   Do you love others or are you in an immoral love relationship for the security money gives?  Victor Hugo once said that “As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.”  Do you know the joy of giving —and giving extravagantly?  It stirs your heart. 

The Bible speaks about how we spend and give our money over 2000 times. Giving is a spiritual sacrifice and an expression of love and gratitude, because everything we have comes from God (see 1 Chronicles 29:14).   It’s been said that “No one has ever become poor from giving, ” and I have seen that this is true. God sustains, blesses and provides for those that faithfully give from the heart.  And that’s how it’s suppose to be: From the heart!  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV.  Are you happy to place that check in the envelope or offering plate? God loves it!

In fact, the way we give indicates a great deal about our real belief and faith in God. What you give shows what you hold dear. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  Where is your treasure?  Mother Theresa once said, “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”   Do we believe what Jesus said about these things or not???  Although the Apostle Paul never gave great emphasis to the subject of giving, he never neglected its importance. In 1 Corinthians 16:1–2, we find specific guidelines for giving: it is to be a universal practice for believers; it is to be done regularly; it is a personal act; and it is something we should be prepared to do. As we give, God will meet our needs and prosper us (see 2 Corinthians 9:6–10).

No one should give solely for God’s blessings—-even though we are promised that He will bless us.  Nor should we give in an attempt to manipulate God, to relieve guilt, to increase self-worth, to achieve recognition, to obtain power, or to gain tax advantages.  Again, give because you can and out of an overflowing confidence that God will be pleased with you if you do—-and then watch what happens!  As Henry Ward Beecher said, “Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven.”  You will begin to see yourself becoming that creature you are destined to be for eternity—-and you’ll like that new creature. From what I have seen, the blessing of tithing and giving to God cannot be placed solely upon economical class or another. I know of very wealthy people that tithe and very financially strapped folks that also tithe.  But I do not know of one tither—not one that tithes faithfully,  that has discovered they can not longer afford to do so.   But it’s easier to make yourself tithe now than it is after you’re making a lot of money. It’s funny to hear the excuses of those that have become affluent as to why they no longer tithe. I have actually heard people that have increased their income ten times, explain that they can no longer afford to tithe. Their god has become the financial security they can touch or see in their accounts at the bank. But those gods are not real and will not love them or protect them.  If you follow Christ, work diligently, spend carefully and save your money, you’ll one day be affluent—this is obvious.  But the author of Hebrews warns us: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”  Hebrews 13:16, NIV.  Friends, I want to please Him—-not Wells Fargo or Wall Street.

Let me close with this Tithing brings glory to God.  When Christians tithe God is glorified and we bear witness to the world of the life-changing power of the Gospel.  As we bring our tithes to the church we make it possible for the Gospel to be shared with all nations and people.   It all begins with a conscious act on our part to be obedient to God by recognizing His ownership and then responding by giving the tithe to God

Giving out of your surplus does not make you generous, it makes your selfishness more tolerable! Giving while you are lacking is what pleases the Lord.   

Am I robbing God? and in asking that question, to ask yourself, "Am I robbing myself of God's blessings?”


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