Friday, June 12, 2015

The Discipline of Tithing - Thoughts from Malachi 3

Malachi 3:7-12
"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. But you ask: "How can we return?” 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. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing Me. 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. 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. 12 "Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land," says the LORD of Hosts.

Verse 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 that kind of fatherly relationship with them.
•           But for most of their history, the Jews have 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.
•           Though we 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.
•           Regretfully, like the Jews, we also often run from God and fail to allow Him to be the Father we need.
•           We need the same thing the Jews needed in Malachi’s day, we need to return to God!
•           When we realize that our way is not working, that is a good time to return to God.
•           When we finally quit trying to force things to work which God has already said will not be helpful to us, it is a good time to return to God.

Verse 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, He brought up the subject of tithing.
•           Tithing means giving 10% of our income back to the Lord.
•           Tithing is an area that many Christians struggle with.
•           The Bible mentions tithing at least 37 times.
•           The Jews understood what a tithe was, they just seldom gave the tithe as consistently as they should have.
•           God said that when we withhold our tithe from the Lord, we are robbing Him.
•           We cannot have a good relationship with our Heavenly Father if we are robbing Him on a regular basis.
•           Many people try to argue that tithing was ONLY an Old Testament principle and that it does not apply to the New Testament. But the New Testament also teaches 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 cumin. 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.
•           The Pharisees were great tithers, but failed to show justice, mercy, faithfulness and love to others.
•           Jesus said they needed to tithe and to show justice, mercy, faithfulness and love to others.
•           In this verse Jesus endorsed the tithe, but Jesus also made it clear that the attitude of our hearts as we give is as important as our gift.

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 12:43-44

Verse 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 destruction that comes from the curse of sin that rests on the world.
•           We often work as hard as we can to overcome financial problems and still feel like we are cursed. When we feel like that, we should consider what the prophet Haggai said.

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 and Malachi were both saying the same thing about giving.
•           There were times they had worked hard but saw no improvement in their financial situation.
•           We experience this sometimes in our own lives and that is when we feel cursed.
•           Haggai points out that that this concept of blessing and cursing 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.
•           We can break free of the curse of self-focus and regain a God-focus in our lives.

Verse 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 often are more driven by money than we 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.
•           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.

Verse 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 find extra money.
•           Sometimes it means that God will keep things that 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.

Conclusion:
•           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 is now 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 is an excerpt from the book, Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity. It can be found on Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Franklin KirkseyJune 12, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    Several years ago a bumper sticker read: "Honk If You Love Jesus!" Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) saw one that read:
    “Tithe if you love Jesus – anybody can blow their horn.”

    ReplyDelete