Summary: A study of generosity as taught from the Old Testament.

“I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.” [1]

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was recognised for his godly stewardship. Wesley was one of the great evangelists of the eighteenth century. As a young man at Oxford, Wesley once was interrupted whilst hanging some extravagant paintings on his walls. A chambermaid, quite obviously impoverished, knocked at Wesley’s door. This poor woman, locked in poverty, sought some charitable assistance from Wesley, but he was unable to assist because he had just spent his allowance on the pictures.

The journal Mission Frontiers records the guilty recrimination which haunted him. “Will thy Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful steward?’ Thou hast adorned thy walls with money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy—Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?” [2]

Wesley determined to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year, his income was thirty pounds and he found he could live on twenty-eight. So, he gave away two pounds. In the second year, his income doubled, but he held his expenses even, and so he had thirty-two pounds to give away (a comfortable year’s income). In the third year, his income jumped to ninety pounds, and he gave away sixty-two pounds. In his long life, Wesley’s income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. Rarely, however, did his expenses rise above thirty pounds. He said that he seldom had more than one hundred pounds in his possession at a time.

This so baffled the English Tax Commissioners that they investigated him in 1776, insisting that for a man of his income he must have silver dishes that he was not paying excise tax on. He wrote them, “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.” [3]

When John Wesley died in 1791, at the age of 87, the only money mentioned in his will was the coins found in his pockets and dresser. Most of the 30,000 pounds he had earned in his life had been given away. He wrote, “I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.” In other words, Wesley himself put a control on his spending and he invested the rest in the cause of Christ. [4]

Few of us know what it means to give sacrificially. Consequently, few of us know what blessings might result from such sacrificial giving. Perhaps we can learn as we give attention to the text chosen for our study this morning, MALACHI 3:6-12.

FAILURE TO WORSHIP THROUGH GIVING IS THEFT — Week-by-week I briefly provide instruction concerning the act of giving. As we give, we are called to worship God. In giving, we acknowledge that God is the source of all that we hold. Moreover, we confess that we are but administrators of God’s goodness. Thus, in bringing before the Lord our gifts and offerings, we worship Him as the giver of every good and perfect gift.

What would you say is the greatest robbery ever committed? Of all the robberies witnessed on television, read about in newspapers or heard of in our conversations, which would you say is the greatest? I suggest that the greatest robbery of all history is that God’s redeemed people have robbed Him—and they do so on a continuing basis.

The text before us is shocking! “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me.” We are so accustomed to ignoring God’s claims in our lives that we would be shocked to think that these pointed words might somehow apply to us! Unfortunately, professed Christians are not particularly shocked when they realise that they have withheld honour from God through failure to give generously to His cause. Furthermore, we Christians do not expect anyone—the church treasurer, the finance committee, the deacons, the pastor—even God Himself—to do anything about it!

A little girl came home after attending for the first time a service in the local church. Arriving home, a neighbour asked if she were good. She said not only was she good, but she was polite. She explained that when they passed the plate around with money in it, she did not take any. This would seem to be the measuring stick by which most of us determine whether we have robbed God. If we take nothing from the plate, if we receive nothing from corporate worship, if we participate in none of the learning, educating or serving functions of the church—we decide that we owe God nothing and we have not robbed Him of anything!

How good are Christians at honouring God through the act of giving? The State of Church Giving Through 2010, a report from a group called Empty Tomb, suggests that as people grow richer, they give less. Though personal incomes increased 130% from 1968 to 2010, the percentage given to the churches declined by 23% during the same period; giving to churches as a percent of income declined by 16%. If the same proportion of income had been given in 2010 as in 1968, aggregate total contributions would have been $6.3 billion greater. Giving during the Great Depression stayed above 3%, whereas present giving has dropped to 2.4%. If historically Christian churches had received a tithe from the members, an additional $165 billion would have been given. [5]

In 1916, Protestants were giving 2.9 percent of their incomes to their churches. In 1933, the depth of the Great Depression, it was 3.2 percent. In 1955, just after affluence began springing up throughout our culture, it was still 3.2 percent. By 1999, when Americans were overall much richer, after taxes and inflation, than during the Great Depression, Protestants were giving 2.6 percent of their incomes to their churches. Therefore, on average, Americans give 2.4% of their disposable income to the churches. However, Americans spend 5.3% of their income eating out! [6] What is worse, 33-50% of church members give nothing to the support of their congregation. [7]

Here’s the shocker. America’s poor are more generous than America’s rich—if you look at their giving as a percentage of their income. [8] Among the most generous states are also some of the poorest—Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Louisiana, Tennessee and Alabama. [9] With the exception of South Dakota, each of these states has large Baptist populations. Perhaps we Baptists do a few things correctly.

Americans who earn less than $10,000 gave 2.3 percent of their income to religious organisations, whereas those who earn $70,000 or more gave only 1.2%. Households of committed Christians making less than $12,500 annually give away roughly 7% of their income, a figure no other income bracket beats until incomes rise above $90,000. In absolute terms, the poorest Christians give away more dollars than all but the wealthiest Christians. [10]

And the shocks just keep coming! Widows and widowers are some of the biggest givers, with 17.6% giving 10% or more of their income to their church, compared to 8.6% of non-widowed people! [11]

Past studies have indicated that roughly 75 percent of charitable giving is provided by 25 percent of the people, and that giving levels vary greatly from denomination to denomination. [12] Only non-Christian groups (such as Latter Day Saints and Seventh Day Adventists) approach the level of giving expected of the Word of God (about 30 to 45 percent of Latter-day Saints give ten percent). However, it is necessary to keep in mind that such cults employ religious coercion to compel such compliance. For example, Latter-day Saints go before their bishops every year and account for their giving. Those who haven’t tithed the full ten-percent cannot go to the temple. [13]

Perhaps you wonder how we in Canada compare to the United States in giving. The answer is—poorly. Total donations to charitable organisations in 2011 averaged $260 per donor in Canada. [14] As is true of the United States, in Canada, Conservative Protestants donate the most to religious work ($948 annually). Liberal Protestants donate much less ($557 annually), and Catholics ($245 annually) and donors with no religious affiliation rank very far behind ($126). [15]

Perhaps the story told of three men discussing their giving is true. One of the men, a Baptist, said that he drew a circle and threw his money into the air. All that fell outside the circle he gave to the church. A second man, a Presbyterian, said that he drew a circle. Then, throwing his money into the air, all that fell within the circle he gave to God. The third man, a Catholic, said that he simply threw all his money into the air. What God wanted, He could keep. All that fell to earth the man kept.

Though the story is humorous, it should pierce our hearts, for this is not the way to determine what we will give to our God. None of the men in the account honoured God as they should have. The underlying principle is that we honour God as we bring our gifts for His service. We honour God through worshipping by the act of giving. Each Christian—each member of this congregation—bears the awesome responsibility to share in the act of worship.

If you have sufficient moneys to purchase an evening out for entertainment, you have sufficient moneys to worship God through giving. If you have sufficient moneys to eat out at a restaurant, you have sufficient moneys to participate in the worship of giving. The real issue for us as Christians is the amount we should give and on what portion of our earnings should we calculate our contributions.

I have often stated to those who query me about the amount to give that the tithe is a beginning place. The giving of ten percent to God or to His representative as an act of worship preceded the Law of Moses. It reveals a principle which has endured throughout the many years of man’s pilgrimage. This enduring act is a measure of one’s commitment to God. I do not teach tithing as a commandment, but it is nevertheless an excellent measure of one’s commitment to the Master.

I was intrigued to read a recent statement from Governor-General David Johnson. When Governor-General Johnson, who has made philanthropy a focus of his tenure, was asked in 2011 for his first childhood memory of generosity, he named, without pausing, his grandparents. “They were Methodists and poor, but they still tithed, giving ten percent of everything they earned to their church. ‘The first ten percent,’ he stressed. ‘Not the last.’” [16] That particular article continued by noting that “These days we’re more likely to think about ‘paying ourselves first’ with that ten percent off the top.” [17]

All that has preceded consists of a lot of information for anyone to take in. Perhaps you are even questioning at this moment whether one should give on the net or on the gross. Ponder whether you would wish God to bless on the net or on the gross. Just as part of your earnings is earmarked to pay for a mortgage or to provide rent, so a portion of your moneys are claimed by government in the form of taxes. Do you plan your giving on what is left after taxes or on the entire amount you earn? Obviously, if you plan to give based on the amount that you have left after taxes are removed, you will no doubt provide a generous gift after you file your taxes and have obtained a refund.

What is actually in view is our need to work at being generous—not because God’s work could be hindered, but because we are responsible to honour God. The size of my gift each week speaks of my perception of God. If God is a distant entity without any real presence in my life, I will not feel compelled to worship through giving from my holdings. If, however, I truly believe that God is the One who gives me health and goodness and life itself, I recognise that I am responsible to worship Him with all that I have. Underscore this precept in your mind—you are to worship God with your entire being! Your gifts are but a reflection of your perception of God. The question that you must ask if whether your gift honours Him?

Early in the message I mentioned John Wesley as an example of generosity. Wesley’s three rules have often been cited by preachers, but few have implemented those teachings in their lives. The three rules John Wesley delivered to Methodists are as follow—gain all you can; save all you can; and give all you can. The rules are merit serious consideration and are worthy of adoption in guiding how we handle money.

Wesley’s first rule about money was gain all you can. Money is neutral, being but a means of exchange. There is no end to the good it can do. Wesley wrote, “In the hands of (God’s) children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame: yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!” [18] Wesley was careful to caution that in gaining all they could, Christians must be careful not to damage their own souls, minds, or bodies, or the souls, minds or bodies of anyone else. Therefore, he prohibited gaining money through anything that would endanger or degrade oneself or another person.

Wesley’s second rule for the right use of money was save all you can. He urged Christians not to spend money merely to gratify the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eye, or the pride of life. He cried out against expensive food, fancy clothes and elegant furniture: “Despise delicacy and variety and be content with what plain nature requires.” [19]

Wesley had two reasons for urging the purchase of only necessities. The obvious reason was so they would not waste money. The second was so they would not increase their desires. The old preacher wisely pointed out that when people spend money on things they do not really need, they begin to want more things they do not need.

Wesley’s third rule was give all you can. One may gauge one’s giving by comparing it to the tithe. Wesley warned the one who fails to give at least ten percent, “Thou dost undoubtedly set they heart upon they gold. It will ‘eat thy flesh as fire!’” [20] Wesley’s position was that all of a Christian’s money belongs to God, not just a tenth. Thus, he was adamant that a believer must use one hundred percent of his or her income as God directs.

THE TITHE IS THE ACCEPTED MINIMUM FOR WORSHIPPERS SEEKING TO HONOUR GOD — Powerful! That is the word I would use to describe the implication flowing from our efforts to honour God. To the people of Israel, who failed to bring the tithes commanded by God, God said they were cursed. By implication, they were experiencing drought and crop failure. The surrounding nations held them in contempt. God said that this was the result of His withholding blessing from the people. That is astonishing!

God says, “I the LORD do not change.” This is a key to understanding what this passage is all about. Throughout the book, God exposes as fraudulent the people called by His Name. The priests were condemned because they had reduced religion to a series of tedious rites; they no longer made an effort to honour God through presenting the best of offerings, instead they kept the choice offerings for their own use [MALACHI 1:6-14]. Those same priests were teaching lies for the truth of God [MALACHI 2:7-9], thus leading the people astray because the priests treated sin lightly.

However, the people were equally phoney. They had entered into mixed marriages—believers with unbelievers; with the inevitable result that the believers were led away from service to the True and Living God [MALACHI 2:10-12]. Moreover, divorce had become an epidemic throughout the land [MALACHI 2:13-16]. God provides a litany of complaints as He details the sinful condition of the people—sorcery, adultery, lying, oppression of working people, oppression of widows and orphans and inhospitable attitudes [MALACHI 3:5]. Beyond this, the people complained that worship was “boring” [MALACHI 3:13-15]. Shades of 2014! The people had changed; but God had not changed! This was the one reason they were not destroyed; and God called yet one more time for them to honour Him.

The bringing of gifts was a meaningless act. Worship was reduced to a ritual in which the people exchanged a little time, expecting blessing as result of their “sacrifice.” God was not honoured! Yet, the people complained that He was somehow failing to keep His end of the bargain. That was precisely the charge, for the people were bargaining with God. In this, they were not so greatly different from contemporary Christians. God responds to what we must consider provocation by stressing His unchanging nature.

In theology, this doctrine is called immutability. It means that, being perfect, God cannot and does not change. For change to occur, one of two conditions must be present. Either a person or situation must change for the better, or it must change for the worse. Since God is perfect, He cannot get better. Were He able to become better, it would mean that He was less than perfect previously. Were He somehow to become worse, then He would become imperfect, which He cannot be. [21]

Therefore, God is stressing that He is unchanging in justice toward His people. The people were charging God with unfairness—with changing by failing to bless them as they thought they should be blessed. God answers their unspoken charge by pointing to His unchanging nature, which is why they were not destroyed.

In stressing His immutability, God calls us to change. That is the reason He asks whether it is true that man will rob God. This is the foundation for His call to the people, “Return to me, and I will return to you” [MALACHI 3:7]. The people were not honouring God, and one great evidence was their failure to provide gifts expressing their worship.

Often, people will ask me about tithing. I must question whether they are looking for loopholes. Actually, people often appear to be seeking how little they can give to Christian causes and how much they can keep for themselves. Let me address that issue. The tithe was an Old Testament regulation designed for the support of the priests and Levites and to underwrite the Temple worship. Nowhere in the New Testament are believers taught to give a specific proportion of their income to the cause of Christ.

Although the tithe is not taught in the New Testament, the practise of believers bringing offerings on a regular basis is taught. The Apostle wrote the Corinthians, “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come” [1 CORINTHIANS 16:2].

More importantly, it is generally the case that in the New Testament the obligations of the Old Testament legislation are heightened rather than lessened. That is, the law is interpreted in the fullest measure. Therefore, though we are not required to give a specific proportion of our income, it is difficult to think of a normal Christian, blessed with the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, doing any less than giving a tithe. Under reasonable circumstances, any true believer in Christ the Lord should give more than the tenth, for all we have is the Lord’s. [22]

I am compelled to stress for your benefit that the tithe, ten percent, as a principle of worship, predated the giving of the Mosaic Law. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of battle to Melchizedek, the priest of God [GENESIS 14:20]. Likewise, Jacob, journeying toward Mesopotamia pledges a tenth of all that God gives to Him [GENESIS 28:22]. Thus, the principle of tithing—giving a tenth as an act of worship—is one of the earliest principles of the Word of God.

I find it amazing that Christians would even quibble about the amount they would offer as their reasonable act of worship. Doesn’t it make sense that we would seek to honour God with the best that we have? Shouldn’t we eagerly bring our gifts, knowing that all that we hold has been entrusted to us by a gracious and loving God?

I wish that more Christians were like the man baptised in a Texas church. Entering the tank, the pastor noticed that the man’s wallet was still in his hip pocket. Quietly pointing out the oversight to the candidate, the pastor explained that he might wish to remove the wallet before he was immersed.

“Preacher, leave it alone,” the man responded. I want God to get everything.”

Perhaps more of us should have the insight that new Christian had and realise that God deserves all that we have. Paul challenged the believers in Corinth to think when he wrote, “What do you have that you did not receive” [1 CORINTHIANS 4:7]? Let us determine to be generous on every occasion and thus honour the Lord.

GOD CHALLENGES HIS PEOPLE TO TEST HIM — Focus on the challenge which God issues. “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Let me break the challenge down into the requirement, the reason and the response.

The requirement is that the people of God bring the full tithe into His storehouse. The thought somehow persists that preachers want money from the lost. Nothing could be farther from reality. Neither does the true servant of God seek money from believers. The Apostle has set the standard when he writes the Corinthians, “I seek not what is yours but you” [2 CORINTHIANS 12:14].

Those outside the Faith have no reason to bring a tithe before the Lord. In fact, such an offering may well prove offensive to Holy God. I do not think that I stretch the truth by warning those outside the Faith against attempting to give a gift to God. According to PROVERBS 28:9, God wants nothing from the lawless.

“If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,

even his prayer is an abomination.”

The same truth is taught in even stronger language in PROVERBS 15:8.

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,

but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.”

One final passage to instruct us is that which is found in PROVERBS 21:27.

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;

how much more when he brings it with evil intent.”

The reason for such harsh language is detailed in God’s scathing condemnation of the wicked through the Prophet Isaiah.

“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;

he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck;

he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood;

he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense,

like one who blesses an idol.

These have chosen their own ways,

and their soul delights in their abominations;

I also will choose harsh treatment for them

and bring their fears upon them,

because when I called, no one answered,

when I spoke they did not listen;

but they did what was evil in my eyes

and chose that in which I did not delight.”

[ISAIAH 66:3, 4]

I would expect that each of us does wish to honour Christ the Lord. Review the principles for giving as given in the Word of God. We must remember that our giving is an act of worship. It must be voluntary, sacrificial and generous. Giving which pleases God must be thoughtful and responsive; and it must be systematic, proportionate and faithful. Giving which pleases God reflects spiritual maturity. Such giving should match or exceed the Old Testament standard.

The reason for God’s challenge is that there may be food in His house. Just as God was seeking to provide for Temple worship through His blessed people, so God today seeks to advance His Kingdom cause through the gifts of His people. Christian advance in our world is ensured through the gifts of God’s people. We do not charge unbelievers for the Good News of life in Christ the Lord. The earliest missionaries went out “for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles” [3 JOHN 7].

The response of God to the obedience of His people is to bless them. God is pledged to open the windows of heaven, pouring down a blessing until there is no more need. Likely, some among us question God’s ability or His willingness to bless that needs. I do not mean that we doubt this truth in theory; but in practise, we doubt it. Nevertheless, God is pledged by His sacred Word to bless those who honour Him.

I suspect that we Christians do not trust God. The evidence for that statement is seen in our failure to honour Him through our giving. We seek to store up money against the day that it runs out and God will be unable to provide. We live in an insecure world, and we wonder whether God can actually provide for the unseen future.

Oswald J. Smith was for many years Pastor of People’s Church of Toronto, Ontario. He was greatly used of God to lead that church to become one of the great missionary churches of the past century. As the newly installed pastor of that church, he was sitting on the platform when the ushers began to collect the faith promises for the coming year’s missionary program.

One of the ushers, as Smith himself said, “had the audacity to walk up to the platform” and hand him an envelope. He read on it: “In dependence upon God I will endeavour to give $__________ toward the missionary work of the church during the coming year.”

He had never seen such a thing before, and he began to protest inwardly. He was the pastor! He had a wife and a child to support, and on top of that, he was earning only twenty-five dollars a week. He had never given more than five dollars to missions at any one time previously, and that was only once. He remonstrated with the Lord, “Lord, I can’t do anything. You know I have nothing. I haven’t a cent in the bank. I have nothing in my pocket. Everything is sky-high in price.”

However, the Lord seemed to say, “I know all that. I know you have nothing in the bank and I know that you are receiving only twenty-five dollars a week.”

“Well, then,” said Smith, “that settles it.”

“No, it doesn’t,” responded, the Lord. “I am not asking you for what you have. I am asking you for a faith offering. How much can you trust me for?”

“I guess that’s different,” replied the intrigued pastor. “How much can I trust you for?”

“Fifty dollars.”

“Fifty dollars!” he exclaimed. “That’s two weeks salary! How can I ever get fifty dollars?”

Nevertheless, God seemed to be making the matter clear, and with trembling hand, Oswald Smith signed his name and put the amount of fifty dollars on the envelope. He has written since that he still does not know how he paid it. He had to pray each month for four dollars, but God sent the money, and at the end of the year, not only had he paid the whole amount, but he had himself received such a blessing that he doubled the figure at the next year’s missionary conference.

Can God take care of us? That really is the question, isn’t it? Read the promise of God once more with me. “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” [MALACHI 3:10]. God is pledged by His sacred honour to do something marvellous; He will honour those who honour Him. He will provide all their needs and thus enable them to continue to worship Him.

This is the challenge I am now making to the people of God. I challenge you to ensure that you give at least ten percent of your gross earnings for the coming two months. I understand that summer and holidays are drawing near; but if God will keep His promise, I would expect that He would be able to keep it even during the summer months. At the end of that time, see if God has not provided all that you require. He is pledged to rebuke the devourer for you.

Some of you know that this promise is true, and you need to confess your lack of faith, asking God to enable you to commit yourself for the coming year to give at least ten percent of your gross earnings. Wouldn’t it be glorious to hear the testimonies about our Faithful God and His gracious provisions as the church makes its various reports next year? Some among us need to begin preparation now for just such testimony; for as you commit yourself to honour God you are preparing to receive His blessing.

You who are openly living sinful lives cannot enter into this test which God proposes. At least you cannot enter into this covenant with God until you give up your wickedness. Some who listen to me must cease immoral activities— your worship is meaningless in any case. Some must cease to act cowardly in the workplace, in order for their efforts to worship to become meaningful. Some must begin to speak the truth, cease from gossip and make specific restitution for past wrongs before they can ever worship without hindrance.

Here is an altar, now is the time to make things right with God. If you will begin truly to worship, come, kneel before the Lord and confess your sin. Begin now and put yourself in the place of blessing so that He can richly provide for you and lift the burden of trying to make it on your own.

Some simply cannot take God up on this offer. These individuals are under condemnation because they have yet to receive Christ the Lord. If that is you, you must first submit to Him as Master of life and then you will be able to worship Him. You need to listen to the Word of God. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” [ROMANS 10:9-13].

May God transform us, making us into the people that honour His Name. Hear the Word of the Lord. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 CORINTHIANS 5:17-21]. Amen.

[1]Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2] “Mission Frontiers,” Sept./Oct., 1994, No. 9-10, pp. 23-24,, accessed 18 March 2014

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Mark Brooks, “The State of Church Giving Through 2010,” The Charis Group,, accessed 24 March 2014

[6] Ibid.

[7] Brian Dodd, “Generous Church: Ten Top Characteristics,”, accessed 22 March 2014

[8] Joel Belz, “Shame on Us,” Cambridge Study Center,, accessed 23 March 2014

[9] Justin Pope, Associated Press, “Generosity Survey Ranks States by Giving: Mississippi and Utah Most Generous,” Salt Lake Tribune, 19 September 2000,, cited by, accessed 22 March 2014

[10] Jared Bartholomew, “Tithing,” 12/11/08,, accessed 24 March 2014

[11] Ibid.

[12] Julia McCord, “Contributions to Churches Vary,” original headline: “Churches Lagging in Collections,” 23 April 2000, Omaha World-Herald,,,331453,00.html, cited in, accessed 24 March 2014

[13] Larry B. Stammer, “Protestant and Catholic Churches: ‘Falling Far Short of a Tithe,’” in Los Angeles Times, 6 January, 2001,, cited by, accessed 24 March 2014

[14], accessed 24 March 2014

[15] Kurt Bowen, “Religion, Participation, and Charitable Giving: a report,”, accessed 24 March 2014; cf. Ida Berger, “The Influence of Religion on Philanthropy in Canada,”, accessed 24 March 2014

[16] Erin Enderssen, “Who will replace the faith-based donors?,” The Globe and Mail,, accessed 24 March 2014

[17] Ibid.

[18] Charles White, “What Wesley Practiced and Preached About Money, Mission Frontiers, September 1, 1994,, accessed 24 March 2014

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] James Montgomery Boice, The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary, Volume 2, Micah-Malachi (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 1986) 254

[22] Boice, op. cit., 255