Will a man rob God?
Let me preface my message this morning by saying that we have nothing to give to God until we have accepted His gift of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s church appeals only to God’s people to fund its ministry.
This morning I am preaching a message that I pray will speak clearly and directly to our hearts. We may get stirred up because it very literally will cost to obey God (it will). We may rehearse the hollow accusation "that the church is only concerned about money." We may say perhaps that the message is self-serving (to that I confess that I share ultimate concern for the blessing of God on this ministry and our ability to advance His work around the world). I am concerned that we can maintain the staff that we have, but to be frank with you, at the rate of our giving we can’t support the staff we have, let alone hire a youth pastor.
I do not preach on giving often (that perhaps is a detriment not an asset, since Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic.) I am conscious of the cultural perception that unchurched people believe that all churches care about is their money. I am aware that even some church members mistakenly believe that so they use money as a threat - "if you don’t do what I want, then you won’t get my money."
I remember when I first came, I received a call from a pushy woman who wanted to give me her insight into what Faith Church needed and shared with me that for the three years prior to my coming she had not given to Faith because of her disagreement with the leadership. I told her plainly that she was in rebellion against God and she was robbing God and robbing her self of God’s blessing.
Divine blessing is the intent of God for His people. Blessing is that empowerment (enduement) from God to fulfill and live out the purpose for which He created and recreated you in Christ.
· Blessing is that which makes us productive fruit-bearing Christians.
· Blessing is what makes the difference in marriages.
· Blessing is what makes the difference in Christian service.
· Blessing is what makes the difference in the home.
· Blessing is what makes the difference in the attainment of personal joy and success.
· Blessing is what enlivens churches to become fruitful and effective.
· Blessing is the desperate need of the hour.
Malachi is the last prophet of the Old Testament and closes that canon with an indictment as well as a promise of hope in the coming Messiah.
Malachi is an indictment against a people who are living under the assumption that now that they returned from captivity to the land of Palestine, everything is all right.
They are in the right place--Palestine--they have the right institutions--temple and sacrifices--they have the right God--Yahweh (Jehovah)--yet something is missing--blessing (2:2).
Malachi presents a series of indictments against this people:
The method he uses is 1) a charge is leveled; 2) their rebuttal (excuse) is given (yet you say); 3) the evidence is set forth.
He indicts them for:
1. ... their questioning the special love God had shown them.
2. ... their offering of left-overs to God.
3. ... their unfaithfulness to marriage vows.
4. ... their amorality -- evil is good and good is evil.
5. ... their denying any disregard for his ordinances.
6. ... their robbing God.
7. ... their saying it is vain to serve God.
In this time of the year when giving is at the forefront of our thinking, I want to play on that thinking, only to cast it into the spiritual realm.
· I want us to see the relationship of giving to our entire spiritual life.
· I want us to realize that some of you have shut off the blessing of God in your life by robbing God.
· I want you to realize that the ability of this church to impact the world we live in is hindered by our robbing God.
· I want some of usto realize that the road back to revival begins with Giving.
· I want all of us to realize that "Robbing God of tithes and offerings is the ultimate affront against the holy redeeming God and Savior."
Our faithfulness in giving secures God’s blessing which in turn enhances our effectiveness to attract and impact a world for our God.
I’m interested in how verses 8-12 relate to verse 7.
Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, ’How are we to return?’
The word here for return is the normal word for experiencing a revival. Revival is coming back to the Lord.
They ask the question: HOW?
Verse 8 -- verse eight could be a play on words: Will Adam rob E;;lohim?
Would Adam (the one created) rob his infinitely powerful Creator?
Would a man who in creation has just received the gift of life and the privilege of living in God’s world turn around and rob the one who had given Him life and the privilege of living on planet earth?
It is unthinkable that such ingratitude would ever happen. Yet it does!
God doesn’t stop there. There is a more unthinkable from of ingratitude.
Yet you rob me!
We’re not simply talking about mankind in general who has received the gift of life on this earth. We’re talking about a special family of people who have enjoyed the privilege of knowing the only true God and being the recipients of His grace and favor.
We’re speaking of a people to whom God has covenanted Himself to be their God and they would be His people in a unique sense.
People called through Abraham. Delivered out of Egypt. Given the law (the direction of God for a wholesome life), the tabernacle (that symbol of the presence of God), the land (that symbol of the rest and blessing God gives to His people) -- would these people rob God?
This text is talking about us - the people of God created and redeemed for His glory - yet robbing Him! People like those to whom Jesus spoke at the institution of the Lord’s table and said "This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood which is shed for you."
Literally verse 8 says: "yet you are robbing me" - indicating an ongoing practice!
Right now as you listen -- perhaps right now where you sit -- you are robbing God.
Is it imaginable that redeemed people would rob God?
They reply: "But you ask, ’How do we rob you?’ What they are saying is: "Point to one time in the past when we robbed you."
God replies: "The tithes and the offerings (contributions)."
They have nothing else to say. They have been given a measurable way to determine their obedience\disobedience to God.
Illustration: One of the first things a child learns in mathematics is to count by tens.
It is not that difficult to determine whether or not you are robbing God.
Take your pay stub: It said gross $378.59. What is a tenth? Move the decimal point one slot to the left. You now have $37.859. Give that to God and you have tithed.
Now you need to pray and decide about what you will give in the way of an offering?
Often people say: "I would like to make a contribution to the church." Contributions begin after you have paid the tithe.
Now let’s suppose you take that pay stub $378.59 and you look at the net: $378.59
15.00 union dues
25.00 credit union
25.00 company retirement fund
253.59 x 1\10 == 25.359
Proverbs 3 says that God is to get the firstfruits of all our increase.
You may rob God to pay Peco.
You may rob God to pay Verizon.
You may rob God to pay the bank for the house you can’t afford.
You may rob God to insure a more comfortable retirement.
You may rob God to buy gifts to save face to retain respectability.
You may rob God to finance your pleasures.
Robbing God is the neglect to pay tithes and offerings regardless of the reason (excuse) given.
I. What is Robbing God? Who is a thief?
A. Robbing God is not paying Him What he requires.
Under the law a minimum of 10% was required. Grace will always take you farther than the law.
B. Robbing God is not paying Him Where He requires it.
Bring your tithes and offerings into the storehouse (I Corinthians 16:2). The Old Testament was clear that the temple was the storehouse for collecting the tithes and offering given to God. The NT makes equally clear that the local church is the God’s temple today. As a matter of fact, there is no other institution ordained by God to carry out his work in this world.
I say that very carefully, yet very boldly, knowing that we have mission agencies, their workers and leaders represented in our church. But I hope they would all agree with Bob Provost, the President of Slavic Gospel who has often said that "the only way Slavic Gospel or any parachurch organization can justify their existence is in how they serve the local church."
II. What are the Causes of Robbing God?
A. Disobedience -- Bring…! Giving is a matter of doing what is commanded.
B. Lack of concern for God’s work. "That here any be food in my house." The priesthood who depended on the gifts of the people for their subsistence carried on the work of the temple.
C. Lack of Willingness to trust God. " Test me in this."
Can I trust God enough to obey Him and to believe that He will bless me.
Please do not think that this is a panacea for all economic woes. Faithful giving does not solve the problems of greed, unwise stewardship, waste, etc.
III. What are the Consequences of Robbing God?
In verses 11 God is saying that I will prosper you in all that I promised if you honor me with your giving.
Though the content of the promises for NT believers may be different the principle remains the same. God will prosper you in all that he promises if you will not discredit him by robbing Him.
What are the some of the consequences?
· The loss of personal blessing.
· The loss of corporate (church) blessing.
· The loss of impact on a dying world.
In the first church I pastored a man got converted and a year later placed a large some of money in the offering plate. This is what he said: "I paid back the tithe I owed to God since the time I got saved."
Here’s what some of you need to do to get back on the road to blessing. It’s won’t be easy, but it will bring peace to your conscience.
1. Set the goal of obedience in at least elementary giving - Make a decision today to at least begin to tithe.
2. Tell God you want a heart to be generous with special needs -- missions, building, Bibles and shoes for Russia, the work here-- just because you’re glad you’re saved.
3. Whenever you are invited to give beyond the local church, ask yourself two questions:
a) Do I give at least a tithe and offering to my church?
b) Is my church already involved in a similar ministry; if not, should we be; if not does giving to this ministry detract at all from the ministryof our local church?