Oct 11, 2020 | Lee Becknell

When a society stops giving to God it won’t be long before they will stop giving to others

    The story is told of a very wealthy man who, on the occasion of his daughter’s marriage, sent a check for $5,000 to the bridegroom as a wedding present. He sent it by the hand of the bride’s sister and when she returned, the man eagerly asked: “What did your new brother-in-law say when you gave the check?” The girl replied. “He didn’t say anything, but when he looked at it he began to cry.” “And how long did he cry?” was the question. And she replied, “Oh, I imagine for about a minute.” “Only a minute?” roared the giver, “Why, I cried for an hour after I had signed that check!”

    Title: When a society stops giving to God it won’t be long before they will stop giving to others.

    Theme: “When we put God first in our giving, He will be first in every area of life. This simple truth is the heart of giving. We pay God first. Too many reverse this process. If there's anything left, they give some to God. This is what was happening in Malachi's day. They were giving God the leftovers and, as a result, robbing God.”

    * Last week, I was listening to Christian radio fundraiser and they said that only 5% of Christians tithe.  Talk show host Dave Ramsey once observed how different America would be if all those who claimed to be Christians tithed. He said, “There would be no more welfare in North America. In 90 days, there would be… no existing church debts. And in the next 90 days, the entire world could be evangelized.”

    * The purpose of the tithe is to support God's work, but the primary purpose for the tithe is to put God first in our lives.  This morning, I would like to share with you the following lessons.

    1. Something you have belongs to God and He is waiting to see what you will do with it.

    Malachi 3:8, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.”

    * The people proclaimed their innocence, but Malachi, like a prosecuting attorney, presented the evidence to back up the indictment. You rob God when you don’t give Him your tithe and gifts.

    * The tithe comes from a Hebrew word that means one tenth. If you make $100 today, a tithe would be $10. It is simple math.

    * It gets more complicated, because in the Old Testament Law there were actually three tithes. The one to which Malachi referred was for the priests. A second tithe helped celebrate the annual sacred feast. The people used these funds to throw a party in honor of God. And then every third year the people would give another ten percent to help the poor. When you add that together, that equals about 23 percent of a household's income.

    Leviticus 27:30, “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord.”

    Luke 11:42, “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

    Numbers 18:21, “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,”

    Deuteronomy 14:22-23, “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23 And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.

    Deuteronomy 14:28-29, “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

    * Tithing has always been the floor, not the ceiling. In other words, tithing is the place to begin, not the place to end in supporting God's kingdom business. Larry Burkett (How to Manage Your Money) said, "As best as I can tell, God never asked less than ten percent from anyone. But if that bothers someone, I can see no reason why they couldn't give twice as much if they desired."

    1. If you do not give your tithe and gifts to God you will receive a self-inflicted curse.

    Malachi 3:9, “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.”

    * Unfortunately today the term tithing is often erroneously used of all giving. People talk about "tithing" fifty dollars, when they make $10,000 a month (a tithe of which is 1,000 dollars, not fifty). If you give 2 percent or 4 percent of your income, that's a donation but not a tithe.

    * The tithe was recognized as God's. We should always refer to it as God's tithe not my tithe.

    Deuteronomy 8:18, “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

    * A few weeks ago I referred to this verse so look again with me at Malachi 2:2, “If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.”

    * Compare Malachi 3:11, “I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.

    Haggai 1:5-6, “Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

    Ecclesiastes 5:10-11, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?

    * Beloved, God is not blessing us because we are not following His principles for life.

    A minister took his son with him one night to a small church where he’d been invited to preach. At the entrance of the church building, they passed a little table with a box on it and a sign which read “Donations for the Needy.” Reaching into his pocket, the preacher took out $10 and dropped it in. When the service was over, one of the deacons approached. "Preacher," he said, "we have a custom in this church of paying our evening minister the contents of the donation box." Whereupon he removed the lid, poured the money into the preacher’s hand, and out it came: One lone $10 bill. As they made their way to the car, the boy turned to his father and said, "Hey, dad, I just thought of something. If you’d put more in, you’d have got more out.”

    * I am reminded of the quote from The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf confronts Bilbo to leave the ring.  Bilbo gets angry, he even says; “…if I’m angry, it’s your fault.”  People get mad at me and quit tithing like it’s my fault. Gandalf gives his great line. "Bilbo Baggins! Do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks! I am not trying to rob you! I'm trying to help you."

    * Beloved, if you find yourself getting angry let me remind you I’m trying to help you.

    1. If you give correctly, ministry will take place and you will live in a land of delight.

    Malachi 3:10-12, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

    * Notice the phrase in verse 10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse”, God’s storehouse must be full for ministry to take place.

    * In Israel the people brought their tithes of grain, olives, wine, and meat to be store in the Temple. These goods supported the priests and Levites, those serving God vocationally, since they did not have other jobs. The goods also met the needs of the poor in the community. And, thirdly, these goods met the expenses of the Temple operations.

    * When we put God first in our giving, He will be first in every area of life. This simple truth is the heart of giving. We pay God first. Too many reverse this process. If there's anything left, they give some to God.

    * 'Test Me in this way,' says the LORD of Hosts" (Mal. 3:10). God challenged His people to give according to the Law so that He could bless them. Do you realize that this is the only time in Bible where God puts out that kind of challenge? Too often we get hung up on the amount and miss the promise.

    * It's amazing to me that people who trust God for their salvation, their eternity in heaven, won't trust God with their finances. What's the logic in that? If we can trust God for our eternal destiny, don't you think we can trust God with our careers, our finances, and our giving?

    * Our text ends today with these words (v.12), “Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

    One day a man said to his preacher: "Pastor, I just don’t see how I can give 10 percent of my income to the church when I can’t even keep on top of our bills." The pastor replied, "John, if I promise to make up the difference in your bills if you should come up short, do you think you could try tithing for just one month?" After a moment’s pause, John responded, "Sure, if you promise to make up any shortage, I guess I could try tithing for one month." "Now, what do you think of that, John “said the pastor. "You say you’d be willing to put your trust in a mere man like myself, who possesses so little, but you couldn’t trust your Heavenly Father who owns the whole universe!"

    * Giving comes down to two things: who you love, and who you trust. We give to God because we love Him and want to be like Him, and because we trust Him, we are confident that our God will take care of us.

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