Summary: I don’t believe for one minute that tithing buys God’s blessing. But I do believe that it opens a door – or better, a “window” – of release for God to bless continually and mightily.
TEXT: Malachi 3:6-12
Let me begin by making three statements about tithing:
1. Tithe means “a tenth” – Genesis 28:22 – “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” The word tithe in the Hebrew means “a tenth.”
2. The Lord claims the tithe as His – Leviticus 27:30 – “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S, It is holy to the LORD.”
3. Obedience in tithing carries a promise read Malachi 3:10.
I don’t believe for one minute that tithing buys God’s blessing. But I do believe that it opens a door – or better, a “window” – of release for God to bless continually and mightily. The concept underlying this practice and promise is found throughout the Bible, but in the book of Malachi, God most pointedly deals with tithing. There he faces his people with the charge of neglect in the “covenant” practice.
In this passage, the Lord calls for the return of his people. But when they ask, “In what way shall we return” (v. 7), the Lord says something completely foreign to our way of thinking.
• He doesn’t tell them to get on their knees & pray.
• He doesn’t instruct them to read the Bible.
• He doesn’t demand they go to the temple more often.
Rather, He starts by talking to them about their money – about tithing. Notice that it’s His starting place.
First, the Lord contrasts His own changelessness with the unfaithfulness of their fathers.
Though God created us and promised to sustain us, it is a great difficulty for many of us to give God His portion.
Consider this: before the fall of man, God gave Adam and his wife stewardship over all creation. Genesis 1:27, 28 – “(27) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (28) Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
After this, God said, in effect, “I only ask one thing of you: that you honor the fact that a certain portion of creation is Mine and Mine alone.” That’s essentially what God said when He told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16-17 – “(16) And the LORD commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; (17) but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”
We usually think of that prohibition as only being “to eat or not to eat.” But the issue was deeper. It was an issue of recognized rights. It involved man understanding and accepting that a small portion of all he had within his reach was reserved – it belonged to the Lord. The Lord said, “Everything else is yours, but this is Mine.”
We are dealing with exactly the same issue when we discuss the tithe – God’s claim on 10% of our income. Again let’s read Leviticus 27:30 – “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.”
Of course, we know so well the events at the beginning. Satan came, tempting the man and woman and saying, in effect, “God knows that if you ever get hold of His portion, too, you’ll be so much better off than you are now” (see Genesis 3:5).
How easily we’re persuaded by the supposition that if we can just have what God says is His, we’ll be better off! And the tempter succeeded, with the bottom line being that man tried to take God’s job into his own hands.
“You will be like God,” the serpent hissed, and man fell for it. The tragedy is that all of God’s likeness that they needed was already theirs, for God had created them marvelously and miraculously, fully in His image. They didn’t need God’s power, only the blessing of His Person imprinted in their nature. They didn’t need God’s position, only the promise of His provision to sustain their every need. But in Adam and Eve’s pursuit of “acquiring,” they took God’s portion, thereby not only losing what they thought they would gain, but what they already had as well.