Malachi 3:7-12 Giving to God
Malachi 3:7-12 Giving to God (The Building Blocks of Financial Freedom – Part 1)
I want to start a new series today about “Financial Freedom.” As a result, I will spend this week and next week on the positive and negative sides of finances. Today I want to talk about giving to God. Next week, I want to talk to you about how to get out of debt. Consequently, you can look at today as preventive medicine before you get the financial flu, and next week is the medicine you need to take to overcome the financial flu that is called debt.
I will honest with you today and tell you that I am going to talk to you about money. I want to teach you about a concept that some of you may not have heard. I want to talk to you about giving to God. Money is the most difficult thing for people to give to God. Christians even have problems giving to God. We see that right here in this passage. You have a group of people who believed in God, yet they had turned away from God. God addresses them and calls for them to come back to Him. Yet, there is an indicator in these verses that proves that these people had turned away from God was that they had stopped giving to God.
GOD SAYS: You have broken your relationship with Me. You have not followed what I have asked you to do. God calls out and says – Come back to Me.
Perhaps you are one of the people that God is saying this to. Perhaps you have heard about God, but you don’t follow Him. God is saying to you today – Come back to me. Then God uses very dramatic language when He speaks to His people. The people ask: How can we return to You? God replies with a question: Will a man rob God? Can someone rob God?
It sounds like a strange question especially coming from God. Can someone actually rob God of His money? Well, yes we can. God says this. He goes on to explain how this is done. The people ask: How have we robbed you? God says: You stopped giving to me. You stopped giving of your tithes and offerings to me.
God says that an indicator of your relationship to Him is the way you deal with money. You can give without love, but you can’t love without giving.
THREE KINDS OF CHRISTIANS
There are “Giving Christians” – they obey God
There are “Taking Christians” – they ask God
There are “Stealing Christians” – they rob God
First of all, let us stop for a minute and explain the differences between a tithe and an offering. A tithe simply means ten percent. God gives you a 100% and He asks 10% back. He wants you to live on 90% of what He gives you. The ten percent is just a reminder. It reminds me that everything I have is dependent upon God, not me. I don’t make the money, God makes the money. I just do the work. God gives me the money. The money does not come from my employer, does not come from my parents, does not come from the government. The money comes from God. Therefore, He only asks for ten percent back.
FIVE OBJECTIONS PEOPLE GIVE ABOUT GIVING TO GOD
Objection: I don’t have to pay.
You may say – that comes from the law of Moses. So we live in the age of grace. I don’t have to do what the law requires. Well, actually it comes from Abraham, and that is before the law (Genesis 14:20). Since as a Christian, we live under grace and not the law, the tithe should be the minimum that we give. Ten percent should be the starting line, not the finishing line. It should be the floor, not the ceiling of your giving. As a result, it should be the beginning and not the end.
Objection: I don’t know how to pay.
You may ask – do I give from my Net Income or my Gross Income? I would say that since the government has already taken your taxes, you are left with money that is essentially net income. As a result, the minimum should be 10% of your net income. Now, as God teaches you, you may be convicted to give more. You receive €1000, you give €100.
Objection: I don’t know where to pay.
You may ask – there are so many good places to put the ten percent, where does it go. It goes in the storehouse. The storehouse is where God was ministering or serving to the people. In essence, God is saying this: If you are receiving from God here in this church. If what the pastor says encourages you, if what the children’s workers do helps your children, if the worship team prompts you to worship and fellowship with God here, then this is your storehouse. Your church home is where you should give your tithe. Your ten percent should go to the local church. If you are a member of IBC Bremen, then you are required to give your ten percent here. If you are a friend or someone who likes to worship with us, and you receive spiritual benefit, then God says you should give it here.
Objection: I give lots of money to my family, I don’t know if I can pay.
This brings us to the second part of the giving that is shown in (3:8):
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
(Malachi 3:8 NKJV)
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TITHE AND AN OFFERING
What is the difference between a tithe and an offering? According to Malachi, the difference is the storehouse. The tithe – the ten percent that you give back to God, goes to the storehouse – the church. As we will see in a moment, there are promises tied to the tithe, the ten percent you give to God.
An offering is something different. The word literally means to be high or lift up. The basic idea is that something is being lifted up. We can lift up money for a certain purpose. In the Old Testament, offerings were given to pay for the materials for building. Sometimes the offering was given as a sacrifice. Sometimes the offering was a financial gift for the priests. An offering was given to idols and in one place it is used to describe a ruler who received bribes. So an offering is used for a variety of purposes and it has a separate purpose than giving specifically to God’s work in His church.
In essence, you give an offering when you support Chrissie Willker in addition to the tithe. For some of us in this room, when you give money back to your parents, and you do it to honor God by honoring your parents, then that is an offering. When you send money to a mission organization, or if you support another church that is not your home church, then it is an offering. By this definition, your tithe can be an offering – you are giving it to God to serve His purpose in your church. But when you give an offering, it does not automatically fulfill what God is asking you to do.
A RICH MAN AND HIS CONGREGATION
Let me give you an illustration. I am a rich man. Therefore, I am going to start a new company. I will hire every one of you. I will say, I will pay you €10,000 a week. All I ask is that you pay me back 10%. I can afford to pay you €10,000 a week for the rest of your life. You just pay me back €1000. I want a return on my investment to you. I want you to give me a 10% return on my money.
Now suppose you go off and you buy an expensive house, the best Mercedes and you spend money on things. You give some money to some good causes. However, when it comes time to pay me back my dividend, you forget. You get loaded down in paying bills and debts and other obligations that you forget about me. Now I am still paying you €10,000 and that means your income comes from me. But you don’t give me back my 10% return. How do think I would feel toward you. Of course, I would be disappointed. Since we made an agreement that you would pay me 10%, I would now think you are a thief.
Now I am still nice to you and I will still give you €10,000 every week, but our relationship is not going to be on good terms.
I think this is how God feels when we don’t tithe to Him. He gives us our money and all He asks is a dividend. He does this to develop our relationship with Him, not as a demand of payment for services rendered. He is not someone who says pay me because I provided some service to you. No, God is a giving God. He gives because He loves. But God also wants to know that you love Him. So He asks for you to give ten percent to show your love.
But God wants to do so much in your life, He attaches promises to the tithe. Nowhere else in the Bible does God say “Test me.” Nowhere else does God say: “I dare you.” He says here: You give your tithe and here is what I will do for you. God is the ultimate financial adviser. He is giving the best financial advice you can ever get. He says: You give me an investment and here is the return on that investment:
FIVE PROMISES FROM GOD FOR GIVING TO HIM TEN PERCENT
In these five promises that come from this passage in Malachi, God will get very practical with your money. The first two promises have to do with God providing your needs. That is to say that He will give you possibilities of making the money you need to live. On the negative side, if you are unemployed or facing trouble at home with your expenses, God will use it as a way of teaching you to give to Him first. He does not make you unemployed and He does not cause the trouble in your home, but He will use it as a way to bring you closer to Him.
1. God will open good opportunities
The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
(Deuteronomy 28:12 NKJV)
God is the one who opens doors. He opens doors of opportunities in your life. He makes your work more productive and He is the one who gives you the job you need. However, the promise is only effective for Christians who give their ten percent to God and His work in the local church.
2. God will pour out good things
And Azariah the chief priest, from the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left, for the LORD has blessed His people; and what is left is this great abundance.”
(2 Chronicles 31:10 NKJV)
When God gives you good things, He gives it in abundance. He provides for your needs and then there is plenty left. Look at the miracle of the loaves and fishes with Jesus. There were twelve baskets left of fish after everyone was full. God works like that. You think your money does not go that far, but with God it does.
3. God will defend and protect what you have
This promise is related to the 2nd promise. He protects what you have. Therefore, when you give to God His ten percent He defends and protects you and your possessions.
He will defend from outside forces (pests against the fruit), and He will protect from inside forces (that the fruit that grows on the vines do not drop and get damaged.) He prevents what you have from being taken away and He protects what you have from destroying. Remember the story of Elijah and the widow. The widow’s oil lasted all of those days and it did not spoil and the flour lasted all those days and it was not used up – and she was able to feed her family and Elijah.
So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.
(1 Kings 17:15-16 NKJV)
I cannot tell you how often when we were in a tight spot that God kept providing, even when we thought we did not have enough. We never stopped giving the tithe. We never will because it has become a habit. Yet, I can tell you God provides so much and we do not even know it. God will do the same with what He provides you.
4. God will let others see you as honest and prosperous
Many people live a lifestyle that they cannot afford. Frankly, that is being prosperous and not honest. You show on the outside that you live one way, but on the inside, you are in debt, and you have problems, and you can’t get out.
TRYING TO BE PROSPEROUS WITHOUT BEING HONEST
I knew a pastor friend of mine who lived this way. He had compared himself to other pastors in the area and got jealous. So to keep up, to buy the house that had the same standard as the other pastors, to have the same car as the others, he stole from the people who were giving. He was in charge of the local association of churches.
He was the director of missions and he was considered the pastor’s pastor. Because there were pastors living on a standard of living that was quite high, and he was considered their mentor, he tried to live the same way. He tried to live a $100,000 salary on a $60,000 a year salary. As a result, he would write out $100 checks that were never addressed to anyone, and then he would have the treasurer sign the checks. Later, he would write his name in the place for the person to whom it was to be paid.
Along with this, his wife was pressured by him to “cook the books”. She was giving us wrong reports the entire time I knew this couple.He had been in the area so long and so many people knew him for so long that he had built up a relationship of trust over a period of 30 years. It took just five years to tear that all down. I remember his first words as he confessed his sin, “Not everything is as it appears to be.” He was trying to be prosperous without being honest.
5. God will call you a delightful servant
As you start with the tithe, you will sense God’s approval. This is because this is exactly God will do. He will show His approval of your obedience. Beginning with the tithe shows yourself, your family, and your Lord that you are serious. As you continue to tithe, you will experience the freedom and joy there is in acknowledging His lordship over your money and possessions, and thereby your whole like.
Objection: I can see it’s right to tithe, but I can’t start right now.
Never put off obedience. The moment of conviction and enlightenment is the moment to act. To put off obedience is to disobey. Trust God enough to begin this life-changing, eternity-impacting adventure of giving.