(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Randy Frazee entitled, “BELIEVE.”
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
Are you a thief?
I would guess many of you would answer, “I’ve never stolen anything in my life!”
Are you a tither? (A person who gives 10% of their income to the Lord through their local church)
I would guess many of you would answer, “I can’t afford to do that.”
Did you know that God spoke through the Old Testament Prophet Malachi to call out the thieves in Israel? Were they robbing from their neighbors? Were they shoplifting from the local market? Or were they telling their employer they were working a full day and only working half?
They were stealing from God. How? Here’s God’s word through Malachi 3:6-9:
6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.
Here’s a few observations:
- The whole community was under a curse because they were not giving the tithe to the Lord. Collectively they had grown complacent.
- The community had turned away from the Lord…but what was standing in the way of them returning to the Lord was giving of the tithe.
Was God broke that he need some offerings?
No, God knew that the issue was the hearts of his people were more in love with their material wealth than they were with him. They could not return to him and love him with all their heart if their hearts were still loving money. Giving the 10% was much more than an amount of money, it was a statement of trust. The tithe is reflective of the truth that everything everything I am and everything I own belong to God!
When I truly believe this, I ask the question, “God, what do you want me to do with the wealth you have given me?” And God says, “Return to me the tithe, 10%, as a statement of your faith and obedience. Give your offerings as you have freely received, freely give.”
May I be the voice of Malachi to you today and challenge your heart as Malachi challenges mine to a) remember everything…EVERYTHING…you have is God’s and b) follow his direction how he wants HIS money to be managed.
But here’s the great thing. God invites us to TEST him and his promise. Malachi continues (3:10-12) 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
Too often we think of our regular giving/tithe as a “burden” or “obligation” or something that we “can’t afford.”
May I suggest you can’t afford NOT to give the tithe. God invites you to test him and see if he will not bless you as you give to him – not out of compulsion but because of a heart that loves God FIRST above all else…including your money.
Apply: Take a three month challenge (November, December, January). First figure out what percentage of your before tax income (give to God before giving to Caesar) you are currently giving to the Lord through your local church (this is God’s design for the tithe to be the mechanism to support the kingdom work of your local church). Develop a plan over the next three months to be at 10% by February. If you are currently at 10%, I pray you are experiencing the blessing of it and I’d love to hear your stories. I am convinced in three months you will see God’s blessing even more fully in your lives…not because you are giving more, but because your heart is focused on HIS love more!
Prayer: We give you but your own…whatever the gift may be. All that we have is yours alone…a TRUST, O Lord, from you. Forgive our greed and robbery, fill our hearts with trust and love. Be faithful to your promise as we test you in giving the full tithe and offerings to you. AMEN.