Summary: God calls us to give a percentage of our income to the support of His work..
Pastor Rick Warren points out that one of the marks of a disciple is cross-bearing.
“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” - Luke 14:27 (NIV)
I take up my cross when I do whatever it takes to give Christ first place in my life! He further identifies four habits must develop in order to grow as a disciple: 1) Time in God’s Word (John 8:31-32 ); 2) Prayer (John 15:7-8); 3) Fellowship (John 13:34-35); and 4) Tithing (Luke 14:33).
He illustrates these four habits in what he calls The Disciple’s Cross. Prayer and The Word are the vertical parts because they have to do with my relationship to God. But I also relate to people and money. So Tithing and Fellowship are disciplines I need to grow in.
If God’s first in my time and money and relationships, then He’s first in every area of my life. But if He’s not first in my time and not first in my money or not first in my relationships, then He’s not really first in my life; and I am not growing as a disciple. Today, I want us to focus on the fourth habit the Bible says is essential to growing as a disciple: giving.
“Just as you excel in everything else... in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness... see that you also excel in the grace of giving.” - 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV)
Today we’re thinking about Giving Done God’s Way. Malachi identifies two types of giving in verse 8 - “tithes and offerings.”
“Tithe” means “a tenth part.” God calls us to give proportionately, and we start by giving 10%. We’ll talk more about this next week.
What is the difference between a “tithe” and an “offering”?
A “tithe” is giving ten percent of my income; while an “offering” is anything I give beyond my tithe. Today I want us to think about tithing and next Sunday we will begin to think together about offerings.
1. The Purpose of Tithing - vs. 8-9
Malachi makes the point that these people had wandered away from God by neglecting to give their tithes and offerings. Actually, what the prophet is saying to them is that their lack of giving is a clear indicator of the fact that their hearts were far from God.
Giving is one of the most fail-proof litmus tests of your relationship to God. On more than one occasion, Jesus linked a person’s giving to eternal life. When Zaccheus, the wealthy tax collector, got right with God, his first recorded words were, “Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8). His salvation immediately touched his pocketbook. Jesus confirmed this formerly greedy man’s conversion by saying, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9).
The way one manages money and possessions is an indication of the nature of their relationship with God. Neglect of giving a tenth of their income and neglecting to give offerings beyond the tithe to God’s work indicated that things were not right between them and God.