Summary: A sermon about tithing in these difficult economic times.

Malachi 3:6-12

“Robbing God”

By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN

Are these tough economic times or what?

Housing prices have fallen to an all-time low while many folks find themselves unable to pay their mortgages.

Gas prices, although they have dropped 20 cents in the past week, are effecting the price of just about everything.

I read a few weeks ago that grocery prices have risen 80% in the past three years.

Is your pay-raise…if you receive one…staying in lock-step with that?

Our economy is depressed.

The entire country is depressed.

People are stressed to the max about money.

So, I figured, what better time could there possibly be to preach about tithing to the local church?

It’s interesting to note that the Methodist Movement, of which we are all apart, got it’s start during a time that England was in such bad economic straits that all the pundits were placing their bets on a bloody revolution!!!

The workers were mad!!!

Those who were out of work were even more angry!!!

And the business people were scared to death.

The Methodist Movement staved off a bloody revolution and helped bring England out of their economic crisis by converting the masses to Christianity, through which persons began to see the world and other people through a completely new lens!!!

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, stressed honest business practices.

And the workers were given instructions and the motivation from God to work hard and cheerfully.

It got so good that Wesley became worried because the previously dirt poor Methodists were beginning to become wealthy…and wealth was a spiritual danger in Wesley’s eyes.

So John Wesley came up with the Methodist Stewardship plan:

“Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.”

And in keeping with that plan, the Great Awakening continued to take on speed.

Methodism spread like wildfire, and thousands were converted to Christianity across the globe.

We sure could use a Great Awakening today!!!

In the Book Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live Lisa Samson writes: “I realized something about myself I never had before.

I spent loads of money.

And when I did that, I kept myself from helping others the way Jesus wanted me to.”

Are we keeping ourselves from helping others the way Jesus wants us to?

If so, we are robbing God and we are robbing ourselves.

We live in an extraordinarily materialistic and consumerist society.

We are immersed in a culture that feeds an appetite for more and bigger, and it fosters the myth that self-worth is found in material wealth and that happiness is found in possessing.

Thirty-year-olds feel like failures because they don’t already have the kind of house and car that their parents own, and forty-year-olds feel unsuccessful because they aren’t millionaires.

My friends, this kind of thinking is killing us all!!!

Millions of couples struggle under oppressive levels of debt that strain marriages, destroy happiness, and intensify conflict and anxiety.

As one radio host says, “We buy things we don’t even need with money we don’t even have to impress people we don’t even know.”

Now how much sense does that make?

Jesus emphasizes that all money belongs to God.

For example, if we drive a company car, we know that it’s not our car.

It’s to be used for the company.

And God wants us to use our possessions with that attitude.

God is letting us use the money God gives us in order to reach the world for Jesus Christ.

What a relief that is.

Our money is not our money…

…it’s God’s money.

And it is only through God that we possess it.

As Christians we need not worry about trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’.’

That’s not what we are about.

What a stress-reliever!!!

What a load-off!!!

God will provide for our needs.

We need not worry.

Jesus tells us: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet their heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?”

When people with different incomes are asked, “How much more income would it take for you to be happy” they answer in surprisingly consistent ways, saying that 20 percent more income would ease their burdens, help them buy all they needed, and bring security.

People earning $10,000 think an income of $12,000 will finally bring happiness, and those earning $50,000 think that with $60,000 they can finally get on top of things, and those earning $500,000 feel that with only $100,000 more income, they will finally have it made!

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