Summary: What would a prophecy about Jesus have to do with the idea of tithing?
A minister took his son with him one night to a small church where he’d been invited to preach. At the entrance of the church building, they passed a little table with a box on it and a sign which read "Alms Box."
Reaching into his pocket, the preacher took out $10 and dropped it in. When the service was over, one of the deacons approached. "Preacher," he said, "we have a custom in this church of paying our evening minister the contents of the alms box." Whereupon he removed the lid, poured the money into the preacher’s hand, and you guessed it! One lone $10 bill.
As they made their way to the car, the boy turned to his father and said, "Hey, dad, I just thought of something. If you’d put more in, you’d have got more out."
APPLY: Malachi chapter 3 is perhaps the most preached Scripture when it comes to the issue of tithing. Preachers have been known to use this text to shame Christians who don’t give a whole lot to God’s cause. And (in many churches) there is reason to do that. The national average of giving (for most congregations) is 3%, with the majority of the support - in any given church - coming from only a handful of people.
ILLUS: In an article in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, reporter Sean O’Neill wrote, “Immediately following WWII people gave proportionately more of their income than they do today.” O’Neill reported that the average evangelical Christian today gives only 3.5% of his income. As a result, the average church is only able to support half the outreach and missions that they’d like to.
Talk show host Dave Ramsey once observed how different America would be if all those who claimed to be Christians tithed. He said, “There would be no more welfare in North America. In 90 days, there would be… no existing church debts. And in the next 90 days, the entire world could be evangelized.”
So, preaching Malachi 3 is almost a no-brainer for most preachers in most congregations. In fact (for preachers that would use this to shame their people into tithing) this passage almost preaches itself because that’s exactly what Malachi was doing to the Israelites. He was shaming them. Malachi was basically telling them, if they would put into their relationship with God, they’d get more out. The Israelites had become lax in their obedience to the law and specifically the part of that law required them to give a regular tithe to God.
(pause) But then, they were under the law – we’re not. They were specifically instructed to give a 1/10 of the income to God – we’re not… at least I don’t think so.
Well, actually, it’s not quite that simple
I. Malachi 3 starts out with a powerful prophecy.
Reread Malachi 3:1-3 and you see a “messenger who will prepare the way before me.” That’s John the Baptist. And Jesus is referred to as “the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple.”
And what’s Jesus going to do when He comes? He’s going to be like a refiner’s fire… a launderer’s soap.
What’s that mean? It means: Jesus would come to clean people up. It means: He would come to bring change to people’s lives.