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Summary: Tithing is a matter of obedience, and God blesses us when we are faithful.

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The Spiritual Side of Giving

Text: Mal. 3:6-12

Introduction

1. Illustration: A new survey conducted by the Barna Research Group shows that...born again Christians are much more generous than the norm, but very few give 10% or more of their income - a proportion described in the Bible as a "tithe" - to their church. The survey confirmed that the admonition is rarely followed. One out of every six born again Christians (16%) gave no money to his/her church during 1999. The proportion who tithed to their church was just 8% (www.barna.org).

2. The concept is a simple one: God gives us everything we have and asks only 10% in return.

a. If we do, He promises to bless us so much, that we will not be able to contain it.

b. If we don’t, He tells us that we will be cursed.

3. Now if you were to ask most people if they want to be blessed they are going to say, "Well of course I do." Yet only 8% of Christians tithe.

4. In Malachi 3:6-12, we learn of God’s

a. Chastisement

b. Challenge

Proposition: Tithing is a matter of obedience, and God blesses us when we are faithful.

Transition: First, there is...

I. A Chastisement (6-9)

A. Have Not Changed

1. The context of this text, as is usually the case with the prophets, is that the nation of Israel has fallen under God’s judgment because of their sin and rebellion.

2. In addressing His people about the reason for the judgment the Lord says, “I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed."

a. One of the things that we know about God and His character is that He does not change.

b. Heb. 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

c. There are people here today that can remember when there was no internet, cable TV, satellite dishes, mp3 players, or compact discs.

d. We live in an ever-changing world, but we have a God who is constant and unchanging.

3. However, in this context this idea of God not changing takes on several different aspects.

a. Because God does not change, He has remained faithful to them even though they did not deserve it.

b. He remained faithful to them because He had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

c. He had made a promise to their ancestors, and that is the only reason He had not destroyed them yet.

d. If it hadn’t been for His unchanging character, He would have already wiped them off the map.

e. Did you get the impression that the Lord is very unhappy?

4. On the other hand, the fact that God does not change also indicates that He will not continue to put up with their sin.

a. The Lord has never turned a blind eye to sin, and that will never change.

b. It was true in the Garden; it was true in the wilderness; and it is true today.

c. The Lord reminds them "I have not changed, and I never will."

d. The standards of our society may change, our standards may change, but God’s standards are always the same.

5. Another part of the problem, however, is that they have not changed either. The Lord tells them "Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them."

a. They have always been a stubborn, rebellious people.

b. They have always scorned the decrees of the Lord.

c. A decree is something that is prescribed, a rule, a regulation.

d. They have always disobeyed Him.

6. The great thing about God’s unchanging character is that He always has been, and always will be a God of forgiveness. He says, "Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies."

a. Illustration: "God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination." Saint Augustine

b. The word return, in essence, means to repent since to repent means "to turn around."

c. One of the great things about our God is that He is the God of the second chance.

d. He will always give us the opportunity to get it right.

e. They had sinned against the Lord, and now He was giving them the chance to get it right.

B. How Can We Return

1. But the problem is that they don’t think that they have done anything wrong.

2. They say to the Lord ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

a. Their ignorance of their wrongdoing shows just how far they have fallen and reveals a lack of guilt (Verhoef, NICOT: Book of Malachi, 302).

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