Summary: ... Test Me now with this, says Jehovah of Hosts, to see if I will not open the windows of Heaven for you, and pour out a blessing for you, until there is not enough room. God said it, so I’ll say it. God is willing to take up the challenge. Tithing is no
Opening illustration: 24 year old Danny Simpson was sentenced to 6 years in jail for robbing a bank. Danny got 6 years in the clink for stealing $6,000. But the gun he used in the robbery ended up in a museum. The .45 caliber Colt semi-automatic turned out to be an antique made in 1918 by the Ross Rifle Company. His pistol was worth up to $100,000 on the collectors market. If Danny Simpson had known what he had in his hands, he would not have ended up in jail.
Many Christians live like this. They spend their lives searching for God’s blessings, power and presence, not realizing it’s already in their hands.
Let us turn to Malachi 3 and get ourselves acquainted with God’s perspective on our giving to Him and the unprecedented power we have by giving to God.
Introduction / Background: The very word "tithe" means "one tenth." Tithing was an ancient and general practice among other religions and cultures besides Jews and Christians, but it has been a practice of the Judeo-Christian tradition for thousands of years. Tithing is found is Scripture in several periods of biblical history, from pre-Mosaic times to the days of the early church.
Malachi urged the people to stop holding back their tithes, to stop keeping from God what He deserved. One of the most remarkable statements in all of Scripture is from God in the book of the prophet Malachi. God is talking to His people and He knows how human nature works. Instead of being open-handed and generous with money, the people were closing their hearts off to the poor, and clutching onto whatever they had.
(i) Affirmed throughout Bible.
• Predates Moses in Old Testament.
a) Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek. Gen. 14:17-20
b) Jacob promised to tithe at Bethel. Gen. 28:22
• Commanded by Moses. Deut. 14:22
• Assumed by Jesus. Matt. 23:23
(ii) Who received the tithes?
(a) Levites. Num. 18:21ff.
• Made up for their lack of income and inheritance.
• They were to use it to support themselves and Temple.
(c) Priests. Heb. 7:5
• The Levites gave them a tithe of their tithe.
• Priests got offerings of left-over sacrifices.
(d) Poor people. Deut. 14:29
• Shows God’s concern for the down-and-out.
Everything we have is from God, so when we refuse to return to him a part of what He has given, we rob Him. Do you want to selfishly want to keep 100% of what God gives, or are you willing to return at least 10% for helping to advance God’s Kingdom? The people of Malachi’s day ignored God’s command to give a tithe of their income to His temple. They may have feared losing what they had worked so hard to get, but in this they misjudged God. “Give, and it will be given to you.” He says (Luke 6: 38). When we give, we must remember that the blessings God promises are not always material and may not be experienced completely here on earth, but we will certainly receive them in our future life with him.
What will it take for us to faithfully give our tithes and offering?
1. Charges (v 8):
God answers question by question, but thereby drives it home to the sinner’s soul, and appeals to his conscience. The conscience is steeled, and answers again, “In what?” God specifies two things only, obvious, patent, which, as being material things, they could not deny. “In tithes and offerings.”
You can impress other Christians by your extensive Bible knowledge, your fervent prayers, or your many years of service in the church. But God does not look at any of those things to test your faithfulness. Rather, He looks at how you manage the money that He has entrusted to you. Are you greedy or generous? Do you have integrity in money matters? Are your priorities and motives for earning, spending, saving, and giving in line with His Word? So, to evaluate God’s charge that we have robbed Him, we have to examine our stewardship of money. Maybe you’re thinking, “Whew, I’m off the hook, because I give ten percent to the Lord’s work!” Well, maybe, but probably not!
People get nervous when you take away that ten percent figure. Somehow, it’s comfortable and simple to give ten percent. But the problem with tithing is that people get the notion that once they’ve paid God ten percent, they’re free to squander the rest on themselves. But I think that God would charge such people, however sincere they may be, with robbing Him.
Illustration: In Words We Live By, Brian Burrell tells of an armed robber named Dennis Lee Curtis who was arrested in 1992 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Curtis apparently had scruples about his thievery. In his wallet the police found a sheet of paper on which was written the following code: