I have a friend who has been very supportive to me over the
last 25 years of my life. And even though we have a long relationship it tends
to be a love / hate relationship. I mean I love to spend time with him and
his family at a restaurant, or movie, or his house, or even in rush hour
traffic. But I hate to go see him at his place of business.
You see my friend is a dentist, and I am not a very good
patient. The reason that I have this love hate relationship with him is because
every time I go see him in his office he likes to check me for TMJ. If you have
ever had this test before you know that it involves him taking his index finger
and pressing in the back of my jaw and mouth. All the while that he pokes he asks me "Does this hurt?
How about this? What about this?"
If I cry in pain that means one of two things has happened,
either he pushed too hard, without the right sensitivity. Or, more likely,
there's something wrong, and he will say, "We'd better do some more tests.
It’s not supposed to hurt there!
You know it’s not just doctors that have to poke every now
and then to see if everything is all right. As a preacher there are also some
times that I need to press and see if everything is all right. But I understand
the need to be careful. Sometimes preachers have addressed this topic and the
giving stops. Sometimes the members cry out in discomfort, criticizing the
message and the messenger. I believe that is because of one or two reasons:
Either the preacher has pushed too hard. Or perhaps there's something wrong,
because giving to the Lord is supposed to be a joyous or hilarious event; not
one that hurts.
Last week we looked at our motivation, or why do we give. I
hope that you were able to go home and think about the reasons that you give
your time, talents, and treasure to the Lord. This week I have to poke a
little, and as we talk about how much to give, I promise to try to be
sensitive. I hope that you will be aware of your thoughts and feelings as we talk
Usually when I mention the word tithing people are quick to
respond that tithing was something that came under the Old law and we are New
Testament Christians. But maybe we don’t really understand the practice.
The Biblical practice of tithing is
the practice of giving a tenth of a person's income, including money, crops,
and animals, and is referred to over 50 times in the Bible, mostly in the Old
Testament, since it was a big part of the Law of Moses, but did you know that
it was practiced before Mount Sinai?
In Genesis 14:18-20 we read that Abraham gave tithes to
Melchizedek 400 years before Moses ascended Mount Sinai.
In Genesis 28:12-22 we see a few generations later that Jacob
offered tithes to God.
So by the time we get to the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy
14:22-23 the practice of tithing was something that the Children of Israel were
at least familiar with.
And it was not just something the Israelites practiced.
Every nationality has records of people who gave a special offering of thanks to
the source of their blessing. The practice of a first fruit sacrifice was not
just an Israelite thing. If a person worshiped Ra, Baal, Molech, or Ashtoreth they
all gave a first-fruit giving in an effort to show that they trusted their god
would provide the rest of the harvest. Now, we are made aware of the practice
because it’s included in the Law of Moses in Exodus 23:16-19, as well as the
books of Second Chronicles, Nehemiah, and several others. But it was a practice
that was followed by many different groups of people.
You see the practice of tithing has always been symbolic of
being thankful. For those who love and believe in God tithing our time,
talents, and treasures is an essential way to acknowledge that God actually
owns the whole, and that He alone is in control of your life.
Before we can tithe in a manner that is pleasing to God we
must understand the circular nature of
the tithe. Now what do I mean by that?
We are taught in Scripture to give back to God as a way of
acknowledging that He already owns the whole. God blesses us with every good
gift and the circle is completed by the fact that we are willing to give back
to God and to others. Luke writes in Acts 20:35 "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you
must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said,
'It is more blessed to give than to receive."'
Did you know that little nugget of wisdom came from the
Bible? All these years you thought that your grandfather came up with that and passed
along to you while standing at a fence post. Luke is telling us that if you
want to be blessed then we have to learn how to trust God and show that by giving
to those in need. And if you do God will pour out blessings from heaven.
The text that was read for us this
morning is a great text hidden away in the pages of the minor prophet Malachi.
In our text God promises those who trust Him abundant provision. Remember what was read from Malachi
3:8-10: "Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In
tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even
this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be
food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, If I
will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it"
Now let’s be careful here. This is not a health and wealth
gospel. We are not saying give God a little of your attention and you will be
rich beyond your wildest dreams. These passages show that God wants to work
through us, but that will only happen if we trust Him to provide. God says if
you trust me fully, I’ll take care of the rest. It’s the same thing Jesus
taught in Matthew 6 where He promises to care for physical needs when we put
"Therefore do not
worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we
wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father
knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you".
I love how practical these two verses are and how they
complement one another beautifully. Matthew says put God first and he will
provide for you. Malachi says put your
money where our mouth is. You say that you trust God well prove it by bringing all
your tithes into the storehouse so that there may be food in God’s house and He
will pour out such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive
it". The New American Standard says. “it overflows”
Today when you bring your tithe to the store house, it is a
little different than Old Testament times. Instead of going to the temple and
making an offering to be stored away, today we pass around a little silver
plate and the deacons decide the best way to use that money so that the Lord’s
will can be done. The more that we bring the more of God’s work that can be
But that’s not all God says in our text this morning. Not
only are we to bring an offering that is done cheerfully and generously, but
God makes a promise and encourages us to test Him to see if He will keep His
promise. Have you ever thought about the fact that God wants us to test Him?
God has always given His people permission to check out His promises and see if
He was telling the truth. In our text He is daring us to put Him to the test.
Bring all the tithes
into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me (test
Me) now in this," Says the LORD of
hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for
you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Did you notice how the discussion began? Now try me, test me
in this. The Hebrew word for test means to examine, scrutinize, or prove. God
says that we need to check Him out and see that His word is reliable. Test God
and try to out give Him. Test Him and see how He will return your worship with
blessings. It’s an Old Testament
Principle that is alive and well in the New Testament Church.
Another parallel verse is found in Luke 6:38 where Jesus
says "Give, and it will be given to
you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put
into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured
back to you".
I love the symbolism that Jesus uses here. He says the
"measure" you use to give
"will be measured to you". That
seems to be a constant theme with God. You are forgiven the way you forgive,
you are judged the way you judge, and now He says that God returns blessings in
proportion to the amount that you bless others. The more you give, the more you
Now that being said you would think that anyone who claims
to be a follower of Christ would be an expert at tithing their time, talents,
and treasure. But that’s not
always the case. I would imagine that there are a couple of reasons out there
that we are a little tight fisted with our blessings.
I would venture to guess that the main reason we have a hard
time applying this principle to our giving is that we are afraid God won't really keep His word. Now while we might be
a little skittish to admit it our actions speak where our mouths are silent.
You think “Yeah I read these verses and I can see what you
are saying, but I have got so much going on. I have so many bills, I have so
many needs, I have got too many days and not enough check. Let someone give I’m
trying to survive. That’s the attitude of “I believe in God, but I am not so sure that I believe God.”
What I mean is if I were to ask you today to raise your hand
if you believed that God existed, I am pretty sure that a majority of you would
raise your hand. But believing that God is alive and powerful; believing that
He has full control of everything around us, well that takes a deeper kind of
faith. You see if we really believed God we would live drastically different
than the world around us.
Maybe our problem is that we have
not given ourselves fully to God in the first place. Remember that Paul said in
2 Corinthians 8 that the Macedonians were overflowing with joy even in their
extreme poverty because they first gave
themselves to the Lord.
Let’s be honest for a moment, when
things don’t go our way we are quick to give up our joy. A little traffic, a
case of the flu, or more month than money turns our joy into fret. I am sure
that there were a lot of things going wrong in the lives of the Macedonian’s.
They still were under Roman oppression and Rome hated Christianity. But Paul
said even in their affliction they begged
and pleaded with us to let them share in this service for God's people. But
that all started because they had first trusted God completely by giving
themselves to Him first.
We must first learn to live with
the understanding that God owns it all anyway. When we come to that
understanding it’s easier to trust Him with your time, talents, and treasure. And
that’s why so many in the church still aren't convinced tithing is still
part of God's plan.
Let me close this morning by answering a question that I am
sure some of you have. The question of "How
much should we give?" Now most preachers would get to this point and
say, “I can’t tell you that. You know it’s a personal decision, and the Bible
says that we are not supposed to let our right hand know what our left hand is
doing.” Well, I am not one of those preachers. So let me give you some
First I believe that we
need to give as you have been prospered. 1 Corinthians 16:2 says On the first day of every week, each of you
is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there
will be no collecting when I come. If you have not prospered any then you
shouldn’t give. That is a decision that you have to make on your own.
Secondly, as far as the amount goes let’s look and see what
Jesus celebrated. The least anyone ever
gave and God commended them was 10%.
As I said earlier the Old Testament shows that people were
commanded to give a tithe or ten percent to the Lord. Now I want you to think
about the Jews on Pentecost. They had crucified Jesus. They were sorry for that
and wanted to know if there was any hope. Peter told them about repentance and
forgiveness, and we are told that about three thousand souls were baptized. Now
do you imagine anyone on that day coming up out of the water saying, "Praise
the Lord, I'm a Christian. I can cut my contribution. I don't have to give 10%
Well no that’s silly. As they met, they still gave their
tithe, but instead of giving the money to the priests, they gave their gifts to
Paul, Barnabas, and the other missionaries to spread the borders of the
kingdom. In Acts 6, we see Deacons appointed to distribute the bread to the
widows. Where did they get the money to buy the bread? Probably from the tithes
of the church. So the least anyone ever gave and God commended them was 10%.
And the most anyone
ever gave and Jesus commended her was 100%.
There is that great gospel account in Mark 12 where Jesus is
in the temple. We read “Now Jesus sat
opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And
many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two
mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to
them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than
all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance,
but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood"
So when it comes to the amount of the tithe, it looks like
that if we are willing to trust God with anywhere between 10 and 100% of our
time, talent, and treasure then He will be please with us. If we are willing to
test Him by giving back to Him between 10 and 100% He promises to pour out His
blessings until they overflow.
But before we can give our stuff, we must first give
ourselves. It’s only when we have given ourselves to God first that it becomes
natural to give back to God. The great thing is that God says test me, trust me
with the three things you hold dearest, and see what I can do with your life.
Why is the discussion about tithing difficult at times?
We mentioned this morning the circular nature of the tithe.
Can you explain that in your own words?
In Malachi 3 God says test me. Are you comfortable with the
idea of putting God to the test? Why or why not?
In order for God to bless us what must we do first?
To what degree will God provide for us? (Malachi 3:10, Matthew 6:33, Luke 6:38)
Do you ever struggle with doubt that God will keep his
How can we find reassurance?
Why is it eaiser to believe in God than to believe God?