Summary: This is the seventh sermon in a sermon series on the life of Elijah.
Elijah series Part 7
VII. Opportunity to give
Over the last few weeks we have focused our attention upon the divine opportunities given to the widow of Zarephath. Because of her obedience to Elijah’s God, her family was saved from starvation, and because of this miracle, the widow was given the opportunity to share the food and the news of the miracle with her family, friends, and neighbors.
But this morning, I want to focus on the third opportunity given to this widow: The opportunity to give.
Turn with me once again in your Bibles to 1 Kings 17: 10-16
As we explore the concept of giving, we could go in many different directions, but this morning, I want to focus upon the idea of an opportunity of giving through our tithes and offerings.
We live a different world that is changing every day. Once we could assume a knowledge of the Bible or even an acceptance of its absolute truth, but the day had come and gone. Sadly the place of God and the church in our world is being replaced by a whole host of substitutes. We as Christian leaders and teachers can no longer assume anything. If we forget to teach the basics, then we can never grow strong, and one of those basics is the concept of financially giving to God through tithing.
Richard Halverson chaplain for the US Senate once wrote: Jesus Christ said more about money than about any other single thing because, when it comes to a man’s real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’s character and how he handles his money.”
This morning as examine the basic truth of tithing I feel compelled to tell you what Tithing is and what it is not. Let’s begin first with the Not category.
First, Tithing is Not Situational
When Elijah asked the widow to give her flour and oil, his timing was awful. She was preparing our last meal. She was preparing to die, and yet he still asked and she still obeyed.
Some of you may say… when my paycheck is bigger, or when my bills get smaller or when… or when the church gets better…then I will give… then I will tithe. Waiting upon some elusive magic point in our lives.
Second, tithing is not vague
Elijah told the widow exactly what he wanted. He wanted her last bit of flour and oil. She couldn’t trade or substitute anything. He was clear he wanted a loaf of bread.
For you and I, God is also clear. He wants from us a tithe, 10 percent of our first fruits, our weekly or monthly paycheck. He had every right to ask for 90 or 100 percent but he only chose ten.
Third, Tithing is not self-centered
The widow trusted Elijah even when it made no sense. She used her last resources to make her last loaf of bread- bypassing her son and herself to first feed Elijah.
On any Sunday a plate is passed an envelope with either cash or check is placed in. It is counted and only one or two people in the entire church ever knows what is given. In fact I choose to not even know myself.
Furthermore by placing your tithe in the offering plate, you make the choice to give it to the work of the overall church and its mission in its community and world.
That wasn’t always the situation though. In the New testament church there were 12 large horn-shaped receptacles to receive offerings. The people would come by and toss their money in the horns. Since they didn’t have paper money, coins were dropped, and quickly some figured out that large coins made more noise and if they wanted to impress others then they would place a lot of coins in.
Fourth Tithing is not a genie in a bottle
The widow obeyed and God blessed and saved her family, but while God’s blessing are promised, we shouldn’t give to God with the attitude of Okay, God what are you going to do for me. Or You owe me now God.
This attitude has pervaded our culture as in many ways we choose to believe in or follow teaching that directly benefit us. We tithe Why? Because God told us to which leads us to our fifth point.
Tithing is not a suggestion
Elijah got the widow’s attention and specifically told her what he wanted and needed. In this same way God has commanded us . In MalachI 3:10 we are asked the question How are we robbing God? The answer by holding back out tithes and offerings.
So we have clearly seen what a tithe is not. So now what is it. In defining what a tithe is, I want to come back to the idea of opportunity