Sun. a.m. AGCC 11/24/96
INTRO: Some people believe that money should never be mentioned in the Church.
Yet, Jesus talked about money frequently, in fact 17 or the 36 parables Jesus
taught had to do with stewardship issues...almost half of all His parables! Jesus talked about money twice as much as heaven & hell combined!! Why?
Because there is no area in our life that is not affected by money in some way,
it is therefore a major issue!
Tragically some Christians have come to believe that God doesn't expect any
thing from them financially...that God will somehow be happy with whatever
we have left over to give Him.
ILLUS: Paul Harvey's broadcast (11/22/95) shared this insight: The
Butterball Turkey Company set up a hotline to answer consumer questions about
preparing holiday turkeys. One woman called to inquire about cooking a turkey
that had been in her freezer for 23 years! The operator told her it might be
safe if the freezer had been kept below zero degrees the entire time. But the
operator warned the woman that, even if it were safe, the flavor had probably
deteriorated, and she wouldn't recommend eating it. The caller replied, "That's
what we thought. We'll just give it to the Church." Leadership Magazine: Summer 1996 page 71
Christians sometimes feel that giving to God is something they only do if they
can afford to do it, that God doesn't take notice of our giving. To many Christians giving is not an important topic, or they don't think it is a topic
that should be talked about in Church.... to the world giving to God is a
ILLUS: For years we lived in a small town with one bank and three
churches. Early one Monday morning, the bank called all three churches with the
same request, "Could you bring in Sunday's collection right away? We're out of
one-dollar bills." -- Clara Null of Oklahoma
City, OK, Christian Reader, Sept./Oct., 1995, p. 9.
To God our giving is a serious issue however, WHY? ...because there is no area
in our life that is untouched by money, therefore, money has a way of impacting everything about us. What we do with money says a lot about what
we consider important and where our values are.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God takes seriously the tithes and offerings that belong to Him, so much so that failure to honor God in our
giving is tantamount to robbing from Him! The giver is always blessed by
God, the non-giver will find life a struggle for he has taken himself out from
under the promises of God's blessings.
I. SHORT ON "CHANGE"! 3:6-7
A. Covenant Absolute 3:6
1. Israel at this time was very much like conditions today:
a. they were at peace with the other nations around them
b. this had led to a relatively prosperous time
c. People's lives were very busy
d. People were religious, but did not have much passion about worshipping
e. God's people had become cynical about miracles, they hadn't seen any
great miracles from God for some time.
f. Spending for food, clothing, recreation, building, and sports were high,
while the income at God's house was low!
2. They had come to wonder why God had changed from the miracle working
God they read about in Scriptures to the quiet God that did nothing in their day.
a. But as Malachi quotes God here, the Lord says, "I HAVE NOT CHANGED"
b. It had been them that had changed!!!
c. They had lost their love for God...and in the process quit giving to Him!
d. The covenant had stipulated that God's blessings would rest on the
nation as they gave their tithes and offerings unto the Lord, and that
they would suffer losses if they didn't!
e. It was because of God's love that they had not been destroyed...but they were suffering losses
3. They had stopped trusting in God's Word being true about giving and felt
that they couldn't afford to give....yet they wanted God to bless them!
a. In this way, they were like their forefathers who also abandoned God's
principles and thus suffered the losses
b. in this way, not only had GOD NOT CHANGED...BUT THEY HADN'T EITHER!....they were just like their forefathers who had refused to give
4. They didn't give because they didn't trust that God would take care of
them if they did, they trusted only in themselves.
ILLUS: A church member was having trouble with the concept of tithing. One day he revealed his doubts to his minister: "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 fall 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," mused the
pastor. "You say you'd be willing to put your trust in a mere man like myself'
who possesses so little materially, but you couldn't trust your Heavenly Father
who owns the whole universe!" The next Sunday, John gave his tithe, and has been
doing so faithfully ever since. --James S.
Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988),
5. Giving ultimately boils down to the issue of trust &
B. Call Activated! 3:7
1. God is very straight forward with them here: "Return to me, and I will
return to you!"
a. They wanted to see God's miraculous powers at work...they wanted to
have God actively participate in your dreary lives
b. God makes it clear that the door being opened to what they want starts
c. there must be a return to the covenant....God had not changed, they
were not destroyed, God had promised Abraham a nation...but the blessings they wanted were conditional in that covenant...it did matter what they did!
2. Giving was the symptom of their spiritual health...and when God touched
this area they screamed in pain!
When you get an annual check-up by your
doctor he will proceed to poke, prod, and press various locations on your
body...sometimes with great pressure! All the while he is asking you as he
presses in, "does this hurt?, how about this?" If you cry out in pain it can
mean only one of two things, either he has pressed too hard or there is
something wrong in that part of your body. Most likely it is the latter item,
something wrong in that part of your body. He will then address the pain by
asking for some additional tests by telling you, "that's not suppose to hurt
there!". And so it is with Pastors when they preach on tithes and offerings, as
they poke and prod we sometimes cry out in pain....a sensitive spot has been
touched! It is not "suppose to hurt there"! When pain results, we are in need of
the GREAT PHYSICIAN, because tithing and giving is not suppose to
3. Perhaps if this sermon evokes some pain in you you need to ask why?
a. If money is a sore spot it means that that area is weak!
b. It is not suppose to hurt when we honor God, it should feel
II. SHORT CHANGED! 3:8-9
A. Called to Account! 3:8
1. Failure to give anyone what belongs to them is the same as the act of robbing them!
a. while a rather strong metaphor to use, it is however accurate!
b. It was not just the problem of a few, it was the attitude of the nation,
that the tithes and offerings were not that important in their worship
c. The storerooms in the God's house were nearly empty, at times so low
that the priests and Levites had to at times resort to farming to make
d. yet, the average parishioner lived quite well
2. They had come to believe that they couldn't afford to give up the 10% tithe
prescribed in the covenant with God...much less offerings!
a. So God's temple and the priests were always struggling to do God's work
because of lack of resources
b. hence the result of just going through rituals...there was no money for
the priests to do anything anyway!
3. yet how different the situation would have been if they had been faithful in
their giving...not only would the House of God been full, but so would their
personal lives as well!
ILLUS: The day the church treasurer resigned the church asked the local grain elevator manager to take the position. He agreed under two conditions.
That no treasurer's report would be given for the first year.
That no questions be asked about finances during that year.
The people were surprised but finally agreed since most of them did business with him and he was a trusted man.
At the end of the year he gave his report:
* The church indebtedness of $228,000 has been paid.
* The minister's salary had been increased by 8%.
* The Cooperative Program gifts has been paid 200%.
* There were no outstanding bills.
* And there was a cash balance of $11,252!
Immediately the shocked congregation asked, "How did you do it? Where did the money come from?"
He quietly answered: "Most of you bring your grain to my elevator. Throughout the year I simply withheld ten percent on your behalf and gave it to the church in your name. You didn't even miss it!"
"Do you see what we could do for the Lord if we were all willing to give at least the tithe to God, who really owns it?"
And so the new treasurer had made his point.
-- Adapted from A Sourcebook for Stewardship
Sermons, by James E. Carter
4. Their tithes belonged in the "local storehouse"...the temple
a. It was God's money, not theirs
b. In using it on themselves, even for good things they had robbed
B. Curse Activated 3:9
1. Their violation of the covenant had brought them under a curse!
a. The more they kept to themselves, the less they really had!
b. Because many of the areas of their lives were not being blessed by God,
it was costing them more to try and take care of themselves without
c. What they weren't giving to God the devil was taking from them anyway, and with interest!
2. They were losing 10% or better anyway, taking God's sacrifices for them-
selves had become more costly that giving them to God!
In the Middle East of the Old Testament
era it was not uncommon to see an eagle swoop down and steal your sacrifice
right off the altar while it was being burned. But, the eagle that does this is
in for a big surprise when it returns to its nest to share the stolen sacrifice
with its young. Usually with the stolen offering there are several hot coals
that stay attached to the sacrifice so that when the stolen offering is set down
in the Eagle's nest is will often cause the nest to burst into flames and thus
destroy both the nest and the young! The promise of having more that didn't
belong to them cost them everything! How many do the same thing with God, for
those tithes not given to God but used by us are taken right off of God's
altar...rather than gain, we will experience loss!
3. The whole nation was suffering, they had failed to honor God with their
material substance and so they were barely scraping by though they were
in a time of relative prosperity!
III. SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE! 3:10-12
A. Challenge Accepted! 3:10
1. God now makes clear His expectations...and offers a challenge to them:
a. they are to bring the "WHOLE TITHE"..not a partial to the House of God!
b. they are asked to "TEST GOD" in this area!
(1. the Bible clearly states that "no man should put God to the test"
except here...and only here! (see Deut. 6:16 & I Cor. 10:9)
(2. This is the only place in the Bible where God gives permission for us
to put Him to the test...so what do you have to lose, either God is
real and is telling the truth about tithing or He isn't real! Why not
test Him and find out!?
2. God has put Himself and His reputation on the line in this area of our lives,
all we have to do is put ourselves on the line to see if it is true!
3. The most prosperous nations in history have always been nations that were
Christian in general at the time of their great prosperity...and when they
turned from God this prosperity disappeared also!
4. God's purpose in asking for the tithes and offerings was that there "may be
food in my house" 3:10.
a. to enable ministry to take place
b. to educate the people in God's Word
c. to exemplify to the other nations the difference God makes
d. to encourage God's people
5. For those who accept the challenge they will see God's hand at work in
their lives in a great outpouring of His blessings, both spiritual and material!
(the Hebrew word for "pour out a blessing" literally is "superabundance"...God
will more than do what we could hope for!)
ILLUS: J. L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Corporation, who had given approximately 25 percent of his enormous income to Christian causes for many years, said, " The only investments I ever made which have paid constantly increasing dividends, is the money I have given to the Lord. Pastors will do their greatest service in leading their men to understand the truth of God concerning the stewardship of time and money."
John D. Rockefeller explained a great principle when he said: "I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 a week."
There are notable exceptions. Says Fritz Kreisler, the world's distinguished violinist: "I never look upon the money I earn as my own. It is public money. It is only a fund entrusted to my care for proper disbursement. I am constantly endeavoring to reduce my needs to the minimum.... In all these years of my so-called success in music, we have not built a home for ourselves. Between it and us stand all the homeless in the world."
From the beginning of his business career, John
Wanamaker, merchant prince of Philadelphia, is said to have dedicated one tenth
of his increase to the Lord. Likewise, William Colgate, the great soap and
perfume manufacturer, rose to fame and wealth while consistently paying a tithe
of his earnings into the gospel treasury. This he recognized as the minimum
requirement designated by divine wisdom; and year by year as God prospered his
efforts and multiplied his wealth, Mr. Colgate gladly gave far more than a
tenth. Today a great Christian university stands as a monument to his fidelity
6. What have you got to lose by testing God's Word?
B. Catastrophe Avoided! 3:11-12
1. When they start honoring the covenant with God in their giving, God will
be able to put into effect the covenant blessings which included making
them fruitful beyond normal!
a. their efforts in life will have an added measure of God's protection from
the pests and things that would devour and destroy the works of their
b. They would actually become the envy of the other nations!
2. They would have to put God first however, not just in their spiritual realm
but also in their material realm! (not that these can be divided anyway!)
3. They will discover the certainty of God's help when they are willing to give
first unto Him!
There was a knock on the door of the hut
occupied by a missionary in Africa. Answering, the missionary found one of the
native boys holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, "Reverend, you
taught us what tithing is, so here--I've brought you my tithe." As the
missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the young lad. "If this is
your tithe, where are the other nine fish?" At this, the boy beamed and said,
"Oh, they're still back in the river. I'm going back to catch them now.
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited
(Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 458.
4. It all boils down to a matter of trust...trust in the God who owns everything
and can supply anything we need, or the attempt for us to take care of
ourselves with out own limited capabilities and resources!
a. who do you think can do a better job?
b. what is keeping you from proving God's challenge?
c. are you afraid to try God out on this and then find out you were wrong
in the first place not to trust Him in tithes and offerings?
5. Why not find out why generous givers are generally happy
CONCLUSION: Why is it that God asks us to contribute our tithes to Him? (1. To
show our understanding of His ownership over all things, (2. To involve our whole
being in worship of Him. The truth of the matter is this, "he or she who won't commit to God the material part of their lives is not likely to commit the immaterial part of their life to Him either! How committed are you?