We are sensitive about our money.
The Bible talks a great deal about money, and Jesus spoke a great deal about money.
He realized, I think, that the greatest competition He has in our lives is… money.
Not the devil… most of us don’t actively spend time pursuing the devil, but we spend a great deal of our time, energy, effort, planning,...... on money.
Money tempts us to believe that we have to have it, that we can’t live without it.
And so He says on one occasion ‘You cannot serve both God and money’ (older translations Mammon)
It’s one or the other that must have you.
The same principle applies in the stewardship of our money as has applied in our stewardship of everything else.
Everything belongs to God – everything is God's and He entrusts us with varying amounts.
As you read throughout the Old Testament, you’ll see that the people of God understood this.
So you’ll see when they had cattle or sheep, the first born of each cow/ewe did not become part of the herd but was sacrificed immediately to God.
You must understand that animals were their ‘money’. And in giving the first born back to God, they were in effect saying – it is Yours.
And God in effect said to them – I only want the first born, the rest of the offspring are yours to keep. And that was good news.
The people of God demonstrated their faithfulness by giving the first offspring of their livestock to God by giving it to the Temple.
Likewise, when they grew crops, the first fruits (you read that term often) were given to God.
The first grapes to ripen, olives, wheat, was harvested and given to God via the Temple.
God said the rest of the harvest was theirs, entrusted back to them by God because they had entrusted their first part to God.
The people of God loved acknowledging that everything belonged to God.
When they had children, God said:
‘Your firstborn son is mine’ but He didn’t want them to do child sacrifice like the religions around them, so He said they could sacrifice a prize animal instead.
All of this was to teach the people of God that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”.
At the end of the season 1/10th, what become known as the ‘tithe’, was given back to God via the Temple.
Again, the idea is everything is God's but in His grace, He only wants a tenth.
Isn’t that gracious. It’s such good news because instead of saying I want 10/10, He says ‘You can keep 9/10’ Isn’t that good news?!
When we think our money is ours, then the opposite kicks in, then we say ‘He wants 1/10!!!’ and the tithe is bad news for those who don’t know God.
Do you rejoice that 9/10 is yours or do you get angry that 1/10 is God's?
Is your money yours… or Gods?
And so we get to our reading from Malachi where God reminds us in verse 6 ‘I don’t change’
Somewhere else He says ‘I am the same yesterday, today and tomorrow’. It is good news to know our God doesn't change.
Is 1/10 of your money still God's, or has He changed His mind on this?
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount ‘not the least point or smallest detail of the Law will be done away with – not until the end of all things’
Does God still require the tithe? And does he graciously still say 9/10 is ours?
Back to Malachi verse 7: ‘you’ve turned away from me’
This would have surprised them, because they still worshipped God, sang His praises, kept religious festivals, kept the Sabbath, prayed, studied the Torah/OT.
What do you mean ‘We’ve turned away from You?’
God goes on in verse 8 and says ‘You’re cheating me!’
‘What do you mean we’re cheating you, who would dare cheat God?’
And God answers: 8 and 9 – You are cheating me because you are not bringing me the full tithe and offering. I am competing with your money for your heart, and your money is winning. All I ask is the tenth to help my work on earth through the Temple/Church.
You are serving mammon and not God, and it is not possible for me to bless you when you choose to serve mammon............ therefore you are under a curse.
And it’s not that God is cursing them, it’s just that they are refusing to come under his blessing.
He doesn't reward us for tithing, He just blesses us and living under the blessing of God is a beautiful place to be.
Life is just different, it is abundant and full, when you live under the blessing of God – and remember people living under the blessing of God have all the things happen to them that others do – they get sick, they get cancer, they suffer great pain, they lose their jobs, people steal their possessions, ......these will all perhaps still happen, but they experience the blessing of God in the midst of their trials and tribulations, sufferings and persecutions.
They are blessed and they know it, regardless of their circumstances and that’s a beautiful place to be.
And so God says in vs 10 – Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things.
Do you give a 1/10 of your money to God, via the Temple, which is now the Church…
Satan will tempt you to think I’m preaching this because the Church ‘wants your money’ and that’s not the truth, the truth is I’m preaching for 2 reasons:
1 - It is the word of God and the command of God.
2 - I want you to experience God’s blessing; therefore I want to encourage you to tithe, to give to God through the Church 1/10 of your income.
If you are already giving a 1/10 I want to encourage you to give even more, because as we saw in the New Testament story of the poor widow with her 2 coins, God and Jesus just love a cheerful giver – she gives ‘all she had to live on’ says Jesus, and he doesn't say ‘What a silly women!’ No… He blesses her.
We don’t know much about her except she was poor. So quite possibly slept out on the street with an empty tummy,........... we don’t know. What we do know is she lived and slept knowing she was blessed by God.
So in love, in love, I want to plead with you:
Please consider and re-consider your giving to God through the Church. I promise you (but never mind me and my promises) God promises you – that you will never regret it.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.