Summary: Some of you are in a prison of sorts and you want to know why you’re there? Cause you’re robbing God. You’re not giving Him 10%. The final thing God says here is “test me in this.” Today I’m asking you to test God for the next 4 weeks…starting today.
The first job I had I got when I was about 12 or 113 years of age. In the town where I grew up we had a local mission and the helped families in the area with a variety of needs. They gave away food and clothing to needy families and they also provided lawn care to people in the community for a fee. And that’s who I worked for.
Another thing the mission did was to take care of men who were homeless. They gave them a place to stay and gave them 3 good meals a day. The pastor who supervised all of this was named Paul. He was a pretty rough individual but had a great heat, a lot of wisdom and he was the right person for the job. He had several rules he functioned by for the men who stayed there. (1) If you are going to stay there you had to attend church every Sunday. He would preach in a chapel located there and church was mandatory. (2) another rule he had and by the way, his wife was a great cook, was this ..if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. That’s right out of the scripture of course from the apostle Paul.
So the men who stayed there would go out and do lawn work and other odd jobs and they could have 3 meals and a warm place to sleep. Then at the end of the week he would pay everyone in cash. He also hired a few young teenage boys like myself and he would pay us all at the same time.
Payday was very interesting. I still recall how he would do it. He would gather all of the men and the young guys together; we stood in a large circle and he would call us over to him and he would pay us in cash. And this is the way he paid me….Henderson, how many hours did you work this week…no time cards..I would tell him and this is what he would do. He pulled out this wad of cash and he would say this is what you made, this is for God and this is for you. He would hand me my money and he would stick God’s money in his pocket. Now as a kid I always wondered how God got his money out of his pocket.
But he was a very hard working, honest, man…. he had a big impact on my life and right there in that circle he gave me my first lesson tithing. Now before we move any further I want to define what a tithe is. So let’s go to the dictionary. Webster defines a tithe as a 10th part, paid or given for the support of a church.
Now as a young boy I will admit to you that the first time I tithed I wasn’t sure if I like it or not. Partly I suppose because no one asked me if I wanted to or not. He just chose to give my money away for me. Sort of like the government does. No seriously. You go to work for someone and let’s say that they pay you 10.00 an hour. You work for 40 hours and so you’re expecting a check for 400.00. But that’s not what it is. With S.S. and Federal tax your check will be about 312.00. Over 20% of your check will come out and go to the government. Without anyone asking you by the way.
Now you’re probably like me in that. You don’t like someone telling you to give and you sure don’t like someone making you give and you certainly don’t like someone doing it without even asking you first.
So why as your pastor should I think that I should stand up here and tell you that you need to give if I already know that people don’t like it. Well, first of all, no one is going to make you give to God’s work. No one is going to deduct it from your paycheck…federal tax, social security, tithe! But we do have to understand this truth from the Bible and it is our BIG TRUTH for the day.
Giving is a matter of the heart. True disciples give. Why? Because their hearts have been changed. When we choose to NOT give we are actually robbing God.
I think one of the reasons this passage of scripture intrigues me so much is because it is the only passage in the Bible where we are told to test God. Usually God is the one giving out the exams in life, the tests and we are the ones who have to pass them. But here God says test me in this and see whether I will bless you or not. You see, real disciples, those who are growing deep in the faith, they give. It’s just natural.