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Weekly Word

Entries in Tithing (1)

Tuesday
Aug132013

Can a Man Rob God?`

Today we will be in Malachi 3:7-12.  Here the Lord begins to deal with Israel in the area of finances.  There sin of disregarding God’s Word wasn’t just in sickly sacrifices, but also in their giving to the Lord.  Even though we are not under the Law of Moses, I think we will see some of ourselves in their heart attitudes.

Blinded By False Religion

In verse 7 God basically calls them to repentance, but notice that the end of that verse shows that they are somewhat clueless as to how they should repent.  Clearly a blindness had settled upon the people to the point that even as God begins to point out their sin, they still don’t see it or recognize what they need to do.

Now false religion doesn’t start out as stories about pagan deities and their exploits.  Rather it begins when we twist or reject parts of God’s Word.  When we treat the parts of God’s Word that we don’t like as if they don’t exist or don’t apply to us, then we have begun to go down the road of false religion.  Why doesn’t a person just admit that they don’t believe or trust God and walk away?  Whatever the individual reason, their religion ends up becoming a half-hearted cultural thing.

They are reminded that this is no new problem.  Their fathers had done the same thing.  Now it is true that some generations turn to God more so than others.  However, let us not think that it was because they weren’t as sinful or that doing good was natural for them.  No.  Each generation may have different technologies and different dress or music, but the hearts of people are generally the same.  Those generations that chose to repent did so over the top of hearts that were sinful and a past that was littered with sinful actions.  All generations have a tendency to be blind to their sins.  So we need to be careful of making previous generations more righteous than they really were.

Sin causes separation.  God cannot bless us on the path of sin and thus a separation occurs.  We must turn back to him in repentance so that he can turn back to us in blessing.  This will make sense later because God will point out how they were under a curse.  So this brings up the question: How do I repent?  Let me answer this for all of us in general.  Then we will go on to look at Israel’s particular sin and needed act of repentance.  Ultimately we repent by letting God’s Word show us where in our lives we have chosen other paths than His.  And then, we choose to change by turning whole heartedly to God’s Way.  This will be in very specific things for each one of us.  One of those areas is our finances.

How Can A Man Rob God?

Now I know that verse 8 actually asks “will a man rob God.”  But I will come back to that in a moment.  First lets settle what “robbing God” is in the first place.  We essentially “rob” God when we don’t give Him what belongs to Him or is His due.  Now Israel had agreed to give God a tenth of their increase and to offer sacrifices of the perfect animals in their flock.  These sacrifices also had a financial impact.  They were supposed to give a clear and specific amount of money and wealth in their life.  However, they had begun to give weak and sickly (i.e. not costly) animals for their sacrifices and were not giving a full 10% of their increase.  They were welching on their agreement with God and not giving what they had agreed to give.

Now such daring action really shows that unbelief had entered their hearts.  Robbing God is a daring thing that speaks of great audacity.  What kind of man would dare rob God?  The only answer is one who doesn’t think there are any real negative consequences.  Ultimately they have ceased to believe God is real.  In fact they believe that they will be better off by not giving anything to God.  Instead of “wasting it” they could keep it and spend it for themselves.

God is holding Israel accountable in this passage to the Law of Moses.  But we should ask ourselves why He commanded them to give a certain amount.  It’s intention was to force their flesh to recognize just how hostile it really was to the desires of God.  We are not under the Law of Moses.  But the same things God was trying to teach them, He is trying to teach us.  We are not under the Law of Moses, but we are not called to be lawless.  Rather the Word says that we are under the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

This Holy Spirit is trying to teach us what it means to be like our Father in Heaven when it comes to our finances and material possessions.  In 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 Paul challenged the believers to become givers like God. “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And, God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”  We will come back to this in a bit, but recognize that He does not want us to give because we are forced or manipulated, nor out of a grudging heart.

The Righteous Demonstrate It In Their Finances

Now in verses 9-12 God finishes calling them to the carpet on this matter.  There is no way around the truth that our finances demonstrate where our hearts really are. Billy Graham once said, “give me 5 minutes with a person’s checkbook and I will tell you where there heart is.”  Now God doesn’t need to look at our checkbook to know where our heart is, but it is the irrefutable proof one way or another.  Have you looked at your spending register lately?  How does God’s things fare on that list versus your own comfort and luxury?

God tells Israel that they were under a curse because of willful disobedience in their finances.  This problem was wide spread throughout the land.  They were purposefully only giving a part of their tithe and probably only giving that just to keep up appearances.  This sin would definitely impact the livelihood of the priests and the poor who were helped by these gifts.

Now God actually challenges them to “test” Him in this matter.  Basically He is saying if you will start giving me all the tithe, I will lift the curse from you and pour blessings out upon you.  Now the blessing isn’t primarily financial, but it would affect their finances.  Here is what God would do.  He would rebuke the devourerer, bless their agriculture, and make His blessing obvious to others.  The devourer is more than just a metaphorical term for the things that caused their finances to go bad.  It really is a deeper reference to the devil and his desire to kill, steal, and destroy God’s good in our life.  Because of unbelief and rebellion this devourer is released in our life and will consume even our very soul if we don’t repent and turn back to God.  Only God can rebuke the devourer in our life and free us from his tyranny.

Now what about Christians who are under the Law of the Spirit?  There is no command for us to give 10% of our income in the gospel.  But to say that means we don’t have to give at all is disingenuous.  Clearly if we give nothing at all and consume everything in our life, God will not just be displeased.  In fact a story much like this is used of a man who had bumper crops and built bigger barns to hold it all.  The Bible says, that night his soul was required of him.  God brought judgment upon the one who held all for himself.  This is wickedness in its basic form-selfishness.

It demonstrates a lack of truly believing God and loving Him.  When we truly love God we will want to be like Him.  Good news, that is what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life.  He is working in you to perfect God’s image.  When we give nothing or stingily or grudgingly we are anything but reflecting God’s image.

Now in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 Paul instructed the Christians on how they should give.  When we combine it with the 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 passage we are given these main points.

The believer will be led by the Spirit to give regularly.  God increases us regularly and models regular giving to us.  Thus when we are cooperating with the Spirit we become regular givers.  Our giving will be planned.  They were instructed to not only think about ways in which they could help, but then to do what it took to actually follow through and make the plan happen.  He tells them to set aside the money at the first part of the week and then later it will be ready for those it was supposed to help.  Sometimes we use the concept of “Spirit-led” giving as a cop out.  The real question is not did the Spirit tell you to help a particular need, but has God blessed you and do you trust Him to take care of you enough to help someone else?  Our giving should also be generous.  Too often those who ask if they have to give 10% are only wanting to give less.  Do you recognize that the testimony of the early Christians was that they actually gave more?  Now I don’t say this to put us under a new law of giving more than 10%.  But it does show where their hearts were and where ours often are.  In fact notice that this is the area that got Ananias and Saphira in trouble.  They were not in trouble because they didn’t give enough, but because they lied about what they gave.  Our giving should also be made as a private and free matter.  There should be no force or spiritual manipulation put upon people by spiritual leaders or other believers.  Lastly, God wants us to enjoy giving.  When you give, it makes money your servant.  When you mostly consume it all, you become a slave to it.  Let me ask, are you a slave to your money?  Are you consuming it all and complaining to God that you don’t have enough?  Or, are you living on less than you bring in and honoring God with the firstfruits of your increase by giving to His work and blessing those who are hurting?  And are you doing it with the joy of the Lord, filled with thanks?  Powerful questions, and may we be tough enough to wrestle with them.

Can Man Rob God Audio