Summary: Tithing is not merely a duty; it's an act of worship. This final sermon in the Prove God series challenges the congregation to make a money back guarantee with the church.
Giving as an Act of Worship
Series: Prove God Stewardship Series, Sermon (#3 of 3)
January 28, 2014
This sermon is adapted from a sermon by Jeff Strite by the similar title at SermonCentral.com.
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Proverbs 3.
Illus. – In 21st Century Christian Magazine a mother told this story:
Our 3-year-old daughter was in the habit of giving half of her 2-quarter allowance to God each week. One Sunday we were out of town, so the next Sunday, we gave her an extra quarter to teach her about “making up” our giving when we miss.
She said, “Oh, good, I’ll give one for God and one for Jesus.”
We thought that was cute and didn’t think more about it until the following Sunday. When it was back to the regular allowance and she had only one quarter for the contribution, she started crying. We asked her what was wrong and she said, “Where’s the quarter for Jesus?”
Needless to say, she got an immediate raise in her allowance! We are waiting to see what happens when she finds out about the Holy Spirit.
That family was faithfully teaching their daughter a great truth: that giving is an act of worship. And that was what Solomon was teaching his son in our text in Proverbs 3.
Please rise this morning in honor of God’s Word as we read Proverbs 3:5-10 – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. 9 Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
Notice the words Solomon uses:
• In verse 6 he says, “in all thy ways ACKNOWLEDGE him.”
• In verse 9 he says, “HONOR the LORD with thy substance [that is, with your material wealth], with the firstfruits of all thine increase [that is, of your income].”
• Verse 5: “Trust in the LORD…”
In other words, what Solomon was teaching his son was that, in his worship, his financial gifts to God were the way he: acknowledged God, honored God and trusted God. Today as we finish out our three-part series on Stewardship, and as we challenge doubters of God’s promises to take our money back guarantee, I want us to focus on giving our tithes and offerings not out of mere duty, but as a willing act of worship to God.
I. LET’S START WITH THIS IDEA OF “ACKNOWLEDGING GOD” IN OUR GIVING.
Did you notice the work “firstfruits” in verse 9? What’s that mean?
This was written to an agricultural society where farmers and herdsmen paid most of their debts through the crops or livestock they raised Whenever a crop was harvested, a farmer would divide his harvest between what he would give to God as His 10% tithe; what he would give above tithe as a free-will offering to God; what was to be set aside for his family to live on if it were a human food crop, or otherwise what would go to feed his cattle or sheep; what would go for next year’s seed; and what was to pay any debts. The firstfruits was the FIRST part of the harvest—before the farmer set aside his crop for ANY OTHER PURPOSE.
The idea of giving God our firstfruits teaches two important truths about giving to God:
• First, it means that the FIRST of all your income should be set aside for God.
That is, you set aside the first 10% for God before you pay your bills, your food money or your funds for entertainment. God gets the FIRST and the BEST of our harvest.
• Second, it means that you PLAN what you’re going to give to God.
The farmer had to gather it all in, and he had co calculate his total harvest and then plan how to divvy up God’s part, his part, his debtors’ part. He did exactly what you do when you make a budget for the month. You calculate what goes to God first, then you divide the rest among the remainder of your bills and expenditures.
Illus. – I read this week about a bank in a small town in Oklahoma that had three churches with accounts with that bank. – Early one Monday morning, the bank called all three churches with the same request. “Could you bring in Sunday’s collection right away?” We’re out of one-dollar bills.”