Monday, November 22, 2010
The Blessing of Tithing - A Study from Malachi
Malachi3:7 - Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of Hosts.
• The Jews had been chosen by God as His special people.
• God desired to be their loving Father and to have a fatherly relationship with them.
• But for most of their history, the Jews struggled with letting God be their father.
• The Jews often worshipped other idols.
• The Jews often failed to obey the commands that the Lord gave them, which were for their own protection and blessing.
• The Jews often went through the motions of religious rituals without meaning any of it.
• Sadly, many Jews are still living without God today.
• Though most of us may not be ethnically Jewish, when we became Christians we were grafted into the promises of God and became His children.
• God desires to be our Father and to have a wonderful fatherly relationship with us just as He does with the Jews.
• How often do we run from God and fail to allow Him to be the Father we need?
• Like the wayward Jews, we also need to return to God!
• When will we realize that our way is not working? When will we finally quit trying to force things to work that God has already said will not be helpful to us?
Malachi 3: 8 - "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!” You ask: "How do we rob You?” “By not making the payments of 10 percent and the contributions.
• When the Jews asked why God did not think they were really following Him, God brought up the subject of tithing. It was but one of many examples God could have used.
• Tithing means giving 10% of our income back to the Lord.
• Tithing is an area that many Christians struggle in.
• The Bible mentions tithing at least 37 times, so it is not an obscure concept in the Bible.
• The Jews understood what a tithe was; they just seldom gave the tithe as consistently as they should have.
• God said that when the Jews withhold their tithe from the Lord, they were robbing Him.
• Since we are now spiritually Jews, how are we doing in our own tithing? How can we think we have a good relationship with our Heavenly Father if we are robbing Him on regular basis?
• Many Christians try to argue that tithing was ONLY an Old Testament principle and that it does not apply to New Testament believers.
• Does the New Testament teach tithing?
Matthew 23:23 - Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
• Jesus was the one who spoke this verse.
• Jesus was referring to the practice of the Pharisees to grow small window boxes of exotic herbs. The Pharisees were faithful to tithe on these small handfuls of herbs.
• But the Pharisees failed to show justice, mercy, faithfulness and love to others.
• Jesus said they needed to both tithe and show justice, mercy, faithfulness and love to others.
• In this verse, Jesus Himself endorses the tithe. But Jesus also makes it clear that the attitude of the giver’s heart is as important as the tithe itself.
What Attitudes Should We Have When We Give?
• We should give cheerfully – 2 Corinthians 9:7
• We should give with compassion for the less fortunate – 1 John 3:17-18
• We should give faithfully – 1 Corinthians 4:2, 16:2
• We should give generously – 2 Corinthians 9:6, Luke 6:38
• We should give sacrificially – Mark 13:43-44
• What if we choose not to tithe or we tithe with the wrong attitude?
Malachi 3:9 - You are suffering under a curse, yet you . . . are still robbing Me.
• When we fail to tithe we step out from under the blessing of God.
• Because we live in a sin cursed world, if we are not under God’s blessing then we are vulnerable to all the ravishes of this cursed world.
• How often have we worked as hard as we could to overcome a financial problem and still feel like we are cursed?
Haggai 1:5-6 - Now, the LORD of Hosts says this: "Think carefully about your ways: You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to be happy. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner puts his wages into a bag with a hole in it.”
• Haggai was another one of the Old Testament prophets. He served during a time when the Jews were working as hard as they could to rebuild their land after a generation long exile.
• But no matter how hard they worked, they did not seem to be able to achieve what they were trying to do.
• Haggai pointed out that it was because they had their priorities wrong.
• They were trying to take care of themselves first and then give God the leftovers.
• Haggai pointed out to the Jews that they would never find what they were looking for until God became the priority in their lives once again.
• We experience this same frustration sometimes in our own lives. It seems sometimes that no matter how hard we work, we still do not make progress. In moments like that, we often feel cursed.
• Haggai points out that that this feeling of being cursed applies to other areas of life too.
• Some people never seem to find a sense of satisfaction in their job, family, marriage, accomplishments, or in anything else.
• People feel this way when they have not made God the priority in their lives.
• When God is not a priority in life, then life will not satisfy us no matter how hard we work to make it better. We will feel like we are cursed in every area of life.
• How can we break free of the curse of self-focus and regain a God-focus in our lives?
Malachi 3: 10 - Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts. "See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.
• We are more driven by money than we often realize.
• Therefore, when we get to the place where we can give generously to the Lord with the right attitude, it is an indicator that something has changed inside of us.
• When people first learn about tithing, their response is often that they simply cannot afford it.
• God says to test Him in tithing and see what He does through it.
• What does it mean to test God?
• Many people tithe a few times and when a gold brick does not drop into the backyard, they think God failed the test.
• But we must tithe with the right attitude and we must do it faithfully in order to be blessed. Testing takes time and requires faith and a willingness to sacrifice.
• God blesses us in many ways when we tithe.
Malachi 3:11 - I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren," says the LORD of Hosts.
• When God says that He will bless us for tithing, it does not always mean we will have extra money.
• Sometimes it means that God will keep things that what we already have from breaking.
• Sometimes it means God will help us find ways to be more productive with the money we already have.
• Good stewardship is more than just tithing; it is also handling the other 90% well.
• We tend to wander from God, so we must constantly return to Him.
• Because we love money so much, part of returning to God includes giving God our wallet – through tithing.
• When we begin to tithe, with the right attitude, it demonstrates that something has changed inside of us. God has become our priority.
• God will bless us for faithful tithing – or we can choose to live outside His blessing and experience the full force of this sin cursed world.
This post is part of a larger study of Malachi found in the book, "Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity."