Summary: This is the fourth in a series but can be used stand alone. It addresses the issue of Tithing as the key to a life of Christian Stewardship.
Building A Life of Christian Stewardship
Pt 4 ¡V The Key to Christian Stewardship
The house is built. This house of stewardship is built on the foundation of God¡¦s ownership, surrounded by the walls of God¡¦s ability, and finished off with attitudes turned toward eternity. Now it¡¦s time to move in. The last thing that happens when you build a house is this wondrous moment when the builder or bank ¡V has you sign the last paper in the stack and they hand you the shiny new keys to your new home. That is what I want to do this morning ¡V but the keys may not look like what you expected. Jesus makes an interesting statement in Luke 12:34. He says ¡§where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.¡¨ How we deal with our treasure determines where our heart is. Notice that the heart follows the treasure not the other way around. I believe that the key to this life of stewardship is found in treasure management and the heart of that is the Tithe. Look with me this morning at one of the clearest understandings of tithing found in the scriptures. This passage deals with the three questions all of us need to answer if we are to be responsive in this area of Tithing. What is it? Why do it? And What happens when I do?
Malachi 3:6-12. Let¡¦s deal with the first question first.
1) What is it?
The Tithe according to scripture is
„« A Faith Investment in the kingdom building process. According to Malachi the tithe is to come into the storehouse so that there might be food in it. The tithe provides for the ministry of the church to the community and even it¡¦s ministry to you.
„« 10% or 1 tenth of all our material gain (not just money) Leviticus 27
„« Represented by the first portion (first fruits) of our labor the first best portion of what we have and are not the left overs. II Chron. 31:5
„« Represents a faith relationship with God ¡V it simply is a faith investment that if I am obedient to God He will take care of me. Stewards tithe because they believe that God will allow us to do more with the 90% than we could have with the 100%.
2) Why do it? Why should I give ¡V if God is so great why doesn¡¦t He just take care of it Himself? That my friends is the same question posed by the thief on the cross ¡V If you are the Christ why don¡¦t you save yourself and us? Here is the truth ¡V Tithing is about us not about God. Tithing is about:
„« Obedience ¡V v 7 - Before even addressing the idea of the Tithe God makes clear that there is a problem with the heart of this people. Their failure to tithe is a symptom of a greater problem and that problem is a problem of obedience ¡V a problem of the heart. John Maxwell says, ¡§In many ways Tithing is a test of who is in charge. If we fail in our obedience it is an indication that either we do not acknowledge God¡¦s right to set the rules in this area of our life or we simply deliberately ignore His authority in this area.¡¨ It¡¦s funny that people who would not willfully disobey God in most areas of their lives continually disobey in this area of life. In this area of life either we are obedient or we are not it¡¦s as simple as that. A simple fact of scripture is ¡§In that which I am obedient I am blessed, In that which I am disobedient I am disciplined.¡¨
„« Ownership v 8 ¡V God asks a very serious stewardship question in verse 8. Will a man rob God? I think to answer that question normally all of us would say NO emphatically. But unfortunately like those who have gone before us we do rob God by not giving our tithes and offerings. Tithing is built on a foundation of ownership. This is the most emphatic place in scripture to discuss that issue. God says essentially - If you are withholding the tithe - you are taking that which is Mine.
„« Partnership ¡V v10 - That there might be food. Look at the scriptures we have shared over the last two weeks. A little boys lunch, a widows penny¡¦s, a widows last bread ¡V yet God says to them ¡§Your faith investment will spark a miracle.¡¨ Your seed will grow into a harvest. God says to Philip who is laughing over a little boys lunch ¡§bring it to me.¡¨ God allows us to be players not spectators in life. Jesus says ¡§As the Father has sent me, so send I you.