Giving to God What is His

Malachi  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:58
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In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is on the hunt for the holy grail. As the bad guy is holding his team captive, Indiana Jones has to go to the place where the grail is held, but it is on the other side of a chasm. He realizes that in order to progress, he is going to have to take a leap of faith.
The Israelites in Malachi’s time ceased taking leaps of faith and started trusting themselves rather than relying on God.
Malachi 3:7–12 NASB95
“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and 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 a blessing until it overflows. “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts.
The people of Israel were robbing God. They had withheld the full tithe from God. They were giving some, but they were not giving what had been prescribed to them by law. Remember that the old covenant stipulated that one bring a tenth of their produce and livestock to the temple. The idea behind this is that it would provide for the priests and Levites as they devoted themselves to temple observances (sacrifices, burning of incense, etc.). You can find the details of this command in Leviticus 27:30-33. But this was not the only tenth Israelites were commanded to bring. In Deut. 12, 14, 26, they were to bring a tenth every 3rd year to a meal shared with the Levites.
When Israel was brought into the Promised Land, the territory was divided up by tribe. Each tribe received that land as an inheritance. The exception to this was the tribe of Levi. Any male born in the tribe of Levi either became a priest or assisted with priestly duties. They lived throughout the land and lived in places provided for them by other tribes. But it was through this tithing system that Levites were provided food in exchange for their services. In a somewhat similar fashion, the church does not generate its own revenue. The church budget is created and funded through our giving. I eat because you are faithful to contribute enough to provide for me and my family. So when we look at God’s claim that he is being robbed, we must not think that he needs what we can provide. His riches are beyond anything we can comprehend. He’s the creator and sustainer of the universe. He owns it all anyway. God is not rendered powerless when one withholds material blessings from the church, or in that time period, the temple. God had created a system that provided for those who had been set apart for a unique service. When everybody does what is right, everybody is provided for. When people stop, the system begins to break down. If the people are not contributing to the temple what God has required of them, the Levites are at risk. They have to turn to alternative methods of meeting needs which takes them away from the duties God called them to do.
Let’s look at verse 10 again:
Malachi 3:10 NASB95
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and 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 a blessing until it overflows.
This verse has led to much debate as to what the New Testament believer ought to do. Are we required to give ten percent? What are the rules? Let’s consider what the New Testament says about giving.
First, it should be noted that the New Testament does not strictly command a believer to tithe ten percent of his or her income to the church. Rather, the principle on giving is that God desires generous sacrificial giving. We see this in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.
2 Corinthians 9:6–10 NASB95
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;
The agrarian society of the day understood sowing and reaping. If you only put ten seeds in the ground, you don’t get an orchard. But pay careful attention to verse 7. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart. What you sow, that is, what you put into the offering plate on Sunday morning is entirely up to you and God. You should consult God and ask him what he would have you do. It should not be under compulsion, nor should you do so grudgingly. Nobody in the church should be forcing you to give anything to the church. I want to encourage you to faithfully walk with the Lord regarding your finances. I’m not here today to try and manipulate you into giving more money to the church. I want you to do so cheerfully because that is what makes God’s heart happy.
Secondly, giving in the New Testament should be done sacrificially. The greatest example of this is in Luke 21:1-4, where Jesus and his disciples are at the temple and he observes the rich putting in their offerings and a poor widow who puts in two copper coins. Then he says:
Luke 21:3–4 NASB95
And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”
The point becomes clear that God is not concerned with how much one gives, but the value that gift has in one’s life. For the rich that day, what they gave was of no real consequence. They could afford it. The widow gave it all. She had nothing left but her heart posture was that she wanted to contribute something. That’s generosity. That’s sacrifice. The temptation surely must have been to hold on to what she had. Who knows when the next payday was coming around? But in that moment, she communicated through action her complete dependence on God.

The New Testament model is generous sacrificial giving.

God expects that we give, but how much and how often is up to you to determine as you seek the Lord’s will in your life. This is directed at the members of the church. If you are a member here, I expect you are so because you have a passion for the gospel and you want to see it spread to as many people as possible. This is why we give. We give because we love our Lord, we understand he has called us to share the good news to the world, and we recognize he has already blessed us with the resources to contribute to the mission.
But I want to show you that the implications of this text in Malachi is not just about what one might put in the offering plate. Jesus addressed the tithe with the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23.
Matthew 23:23 NASB95
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
To give generously to the church and stop there is not what Christ has in mind for us. Even if you were the most generous person here, if you neglected to act justly and exercise mercy and live out faithfulness, you misunderstand so much of what it means to live the Christian life. It would be better to give nothing and do those things than to give to the church and neglect them.

A well-rounded follower of Jesus seeks to accomplish the will of God in every area of his or her life.

Turn back over to Malachi chapter three. If you bring all that God has asked you to bring, what is the result? God says to test him in this. Test me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows! Do you want the blessings of God to overflow in your life? Bring to God what is his. Do you remember when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus and they wanted to know whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? Jesus said, “Give me a coin. Whose inscription is on this?” The Pharisees replied, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said, “Then render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” but the flip side of that is what? “…and to God the things that are God’s.” Do right by the government, but don’t neglect to do right by God.
I’m happy to say that we as a church are financially stable. Many of you give generously and sacrificially. For that I say thank you for modeling that for the rest of us. There are some of you that contribute what you can when you can, and for that I say thank you for modeling that for the rest of us. There are also some who contribute nothing at all to the church. With all sincerity, can I ask you why is that? If you are a member of this church and you don’t give anything, why is that? Do you not see the value or the purpose? Maybe it is because you don’t feel like you have the resources. You are barely making it as you are. I get that. I want you to know that I don’t look at our giving report. I have no idea who gives or doesn not give. I don’t know how much either. I don’t want to. The only time I see how much we have taken in is on the financial report at our monthly business meetings. So if I just described you, don’t worry. I have no idea. Let me ask you a couple questions. Do you love your church? Do you see value in the ministries that we have? Do you want to see the gospel spread across the city, county, state, and beyond? Then would you consider contributing something?

The blessings of God will pour out from heaven when his people faithfully submit to his leadership.

The purpose of giving is not to make me or the church happy. It is an exercise in trust. The people in Malachi’s time lost that trust in the Lord as they waited a century for his promises. Maybe you are afraid of handing something over to the Lord. Maybe you don’t know if putting something in the offering plate will even make a difference. First, you need to ask yourself if you want to. Second, you need to determine what God is requiring of you. Can I recommend an experiment to you? If you are here today and you feel like you have little to nothing to contribute financially, try this. The average cost of a 20 oz. soda is $2.45. The cost of a blizzard from Dairy Queen ranges from $3.69 to $4.69. What if, for the next year, you chose to give up something like that once a week and give that to the Lord? What if that was your tithe? What if you learned to surrender the area of tithing over to the Lord by doing that? That’s what I did. As I learned, my trust in him to provide everything else grew year by year.
For those of you who are already faithful givers, what area of your life are you holding back from the Lord? If you were to say:

God, I give you everything, but _______________.

Would there be anything in that blank? If anything goes in that blank, you just identified the idol in your heart. The implications of this text are further reaching than just our finances. The song goes, “All to Jesus I surrender. All to him I freely give.” Is that true? What do you need to give back to him this morning? You can only go so far in your walk with God before he calls you to surrender control of something so that you can receive the blessings that flow from that surrender.
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