Tithe Regardless
Unite to Build
Tithe Regardless
Malachi 3:8-10
 
I am excited about what God has in store for our church.  There is such a good spirit and we are blessed with many opportunities to serve God and see folks come to know Him and develop in their relationship with Him. 
 
That kind of church atmosphere and usability doesn’t just happen.  We know God wants to bless and grow and use His church.  That is never the question.  But there must be a willingness on the part of the church to be involved in the works and plans of God. 
 
You say, “Preacher, are there really churches that don’t want to grow?”  More than we realize.  Some evidence it openly and proudly.  Others veil it behind superficial excuses and reasons.  But God has promised to bless and use the church that is willing to line itself up with His requirements. 
 
That means there must be intentionality on the part of both staff and membership to accomplish that. It’s not enough for the preacher to have a dream or vision for the church.  That vision must be shared and people must be given an opportunity to capture that vision and be a part of it. 
 
Not can a church, as much as it might like to do some things and get busy serving ever get very much farther than their pastor is willing to lead them. 
 
 
That’s why we’ve been talking about “Uniting to Build”.  And as I’ve said several times, its not just about building buildings.  It’s about who we are as the people of God. When Paul first wrote Ephesians 4:3, encouraging the Ephesians to be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”, he was not talking about a building project.  He was talking about the daily life of the church.
 
That’s why we began with a study of “A Unified Spirit”.  Without that, everything else is destined for difficulty.  And remember, that doesn’t mean we all have to think alike and see everything the same way.  We bring all of our diversity and differences to do the will of God, for the glory of God.
 
From that unified spirit flows a commitment to do whatever it takes to see the will of God accomplished.  We called that “The Necessary Sacrifice”.   A heart that is stirred generously and eagerly gives to do what God said to do.
 
Then that willingness and commitment is covered in intentional, effective prayer that receives what it asks for.  See the flow to that?  If it’s God will and direction to begin with, then He will provide the resources to get it done, and therefore, the requests that we make, in keeping with His will are provided.
 
So what comes next?  The next two are “Tithe Regardless” and “An Exemplary Witness”.  One has to do with life inside the church and the other has to do with life outside the church.  Just because we are involved in a special project from time to time doesn’t mean everything else stops. There are some ongoing needs here and there is a world that is watching us as we do it. 
So today I want us to concentrate on our commitment to tithe regardless of what else we may be involved in. 
 
The reason I want to emphasize that is because far too many churches suffer financial problems when they are involved in building projects.  Part of the reason for that is people never grow in their giving; they merely divert their current giving to the new project.  And because of the that, even thought the project may get done, the ongoing needs of the church suffer.
 
So with that in mind, let’s turn to the classic Biblical passage on tithing.  It is found in Malachi 3. 
 
We will read verses 8-10 in a moment, but before I do, I want to say this:  
 
I have three purposes in my message this morning. My first purpose is - if you have never received the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, before this service is over, I want to bring you to the point where you decide that you will receive the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart and be saved.
 
My second purpose is to talk to those of you who are currently tithing and to encourage you not only to give the Lord the tithe, but also to consider how long it may have been since you grew in your giving to the Lord. 
 
My third purpose is to encourage those of you who know the Lord and are not tithers to begin to give the Lord a tithe, one tenth of your income.
 
 
So in short, I am looking for faithful followers of the Lord this morning.  Some need to begin that process and others need to be encouraged in that process. 
 
And I guess you could say, in particular, I'm looking for tithers this morning.
 
I heard about a couple of men who had a boating accident and were marooned on an island. The first man just went to pieces. He said, "Oh, we are lost, we are lost. There is no hope. It's all over. We are not going to survive."
 
The second man laid down and very calmly went right off to sleep. When he woke up the other man was still in a state of panic. He said, "How can you go to sleep and be so calm? We are never going
to get out of this thing alive."
 
The man said, "Oh, don't worry about it. I make $10,000 a week." The other man said, "What in the world does that have to do with it? Ten thousand dollars a week won't rescue us from this island. How can you be so calm just because you make a lot of money?"
 
He said, "You don't understand. I make $10,000 a week. I'm a member of a Baptist church and I am a tither. I can assure you that my pastor will find me."
 
So I am looking for tithers this morning. You may already have your resistance built up today. You may already have decided - I don't care what that preacher says, he ain't going to get me to tithe.
 
 
 
I'm going to take the approach that George Whitfield, the great preacher, did in the days of Ben Franklin. He was known for his persuasive powers and Ben Franklin was going to hear him preach. He was known to get people to give amounts of money to various charitable causes he sponsored.
 
Ben Franklin decided that he would not let that happen to him so he didn't take a dime with him when he went to hear the preacher preach. Before Whitfield got through preaching he was so persuasive that Ben Franklin looked at the man next to him and said, "Could I borrow some money from you to put in the offering plate?"
 
I hope I can be that persuasive to you today because
I'm going to talk to you about tithing and I really believe if you will listen to me positively and with an open heart, you will be changed from this day forward. You will never again be the same.
 
In fact, by preaching today on the subject of tithing, I may be doing the best thing I will ever do for you as a believer. The Bible teaches about tithing and it teaches us that tithing is the beginning point in our giving to the Lord. Tithing is not a ceiling where you stop giving, but rather it is a floor where you start giving.
 
So let’s look at the text
 
Malachi 3:8-10
 
I want to give you what I consider to be some compelling reasons why every born again believer ought to be a tither and give one-tenth of their income to the Lord.
The first you ought to be a tither because -
 
1. The Lord Expects it
 
Verse 10
 
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse.  That sounds to me like the Lord expects it. This is not a suggestion. This is not a recommendation. This is a commandment of the Lord.
 
In fact, understood there in context, according to verse 8 to not bring the tithe into the storehouse is to commit robbery against God. 
 
Now the primary emphasis there is in regard to
 
  • authority 
 
It really boils down to “Are you going to do what God says do or are you going to rebel against it? 
 
When you read the Bible you will be astonished at how practical and down-to-earth the Bible really is.  The Bible talks to you about your choice of a mate. The Bible talks to you about your vocation. The Bible talks about your relationship with other people.  It is an amazingly down-to-earth and practical book about daily living.
 
And it is filled with amazing counsel regarding financial matters.  I would encourage you to read through the book of Proverbs and check every verse that has to do with the subject of giving. You will be amazed at the insights he gives about giving and about good financial practices.
 
The Bible is God's will for my life. What the Bible says is what I'm to do. I do not give in order to be saved, but I give because I am saved. I give because the Lord has laid this before me. It is really a matter of obedience to the Lord.
 
Am I doing what God by authority has said? Am I obeying what God has given to me in His Word? It is a matter of the authority of the Lord.
 
Then you ought to tithe because the Lord expects it in terms of the arithmetic.
 
If we had time we could look through all the scriptural references, both Old and New Testament, that speak about the matter of tithing.
 
To do that we would have to go all the way back to Abraham.  I have to chuckle any time someone voices their opposition to tithing because it was the Old Testament law.  They just prove how little they know about the Bible. 
 
Tithing predates the law.  It first appears in Genesis 14, verse 20.  Long before the law was given, Abraham began to tithe.  So Abraham commenced it.
 
I could point out to you that as a young man, Jacob continued it. He was a teenage boy on the run, so to speak. He had a new experience with God and he committed himself as a young boy anew and afresh to the Lord. He committed, long before the law, to give the Lord ten percent of everything he had.
 
 
 
Then in Leviticus 27, verse 30, Moses commanded it.
 
Moses specifically commanded the children of Israel (the Jews) in the Old Testament to give ten percent of their income to the Lord.
 
That’s where we finally get to the law.  But understand, God’s people were tithing long before the law commanded it. 
 
Our motivation to tithe should never be the law or obligation.  It is unthinkable to me that a Christian under grace would give less to the Lord than the Jew under law would give. It just doesn't make sense to me. You and I are living on a higher plain than the law.
 
The higher plain for the believer is love. We are not under the law. We are not saved by the law.  Love is a higher plain than law is.
 
Let me give you a simple illustration. There is a law which says you have to take care of your children and the law stipulates they must be fed and clothed.
 
You brought them into the world and you have a responsibility to take care of them. That's what the law has to say.
 
In the morning, when you get up, are you going to say to your wife, "Mabel, get up. Get in that kitchen and get that cereal ready and feed those children. I'm afraid if you don't the cops are going come and arrest us for not taking care of our children."
 
 
Is that what is going to happen to you in the morning? Of course not. You don't take care of your children because there is a law that says to take care of your children. You take care of your children because you love them. Love is a higher level than law.
 
So, Moses did command it to the children of Israel. But what motivated Abraham to tithe?  He had no law requiring it.  Why did Jacob decide to give ten percent to the Lord?  The law wasn’t around to direct him in that. 
 
And by the way, just because there was a law didn’t mean people did it anyway!  Notice our text here.  The law was still in place, but the tithes weren’t in the storehouse. 
 
Tithers tithe because they love the Lord. 
 
So Abraham commenced it; Jacob continued it; Moses commanded it, and then when we get to the New Testament,
 
Jesus commended it
 
Matthew 23:23
 
That’s interesting isn’t it?  He’s talking about love, mercy, and justice and then tithing. Then he says these ought you to have done and not let the other undone. He is saying - let your tithing be from the right kinds of motives. Jesus commended the tithe.
 
Then the Apostle Paul comes along in I Corinthians 16 and adds some commentary to it.
 
Acts 16:2
 
He’s talking about percentages.  Our giving is to be in proportion to how God has prospered us. 
 
So the clear indication is that the authority of the
Bible and the arithmetic of the Bible is the way God intends for us to give.
 
Then think about the appeal of the Bible.  It’s the right way for the church to finance its ministries because it allows everyone to be involved at the same level. 
 
The minimum requirement is the same and it is proportionate and that means that in the fellowship of the church should ever be looked down on or elevated because of how much or how little they give. 
 
It doesn’t matter if you are a millionaire who flies around the country on a jet or a teenager who rides around the neighborhood on a bike, the requirement is the same.  You can be sel-employed, working for someone else, on Social Security or depend on odd jobs. But everyone starts as the same place. 
 
God puts us all on the same level.
 
So the first reason you ought to give is - the Lord expects it. It is a matter of obedience to the command of the Lord.
 
Here's the second reason.
 
 
 
2. The Lord Explains It
 
verse 10
 
He not only tells us what to give - ten percent – but He also tells us where to give it.
 
The New Testament take on that is 1 Corinthians 16:2 says, "let every man lay by him in store." It is the same terminology. In New Testament terms the storehouse is the local church.
 
Does that mean the church is the only place legitimate ministry takes place? Obviously not.  But as far as I can tell, every legitimate ministry will have deep roots in and strong connections to a local church base. 
 
There are lots of valid and valuable ministry and mission opportunities around today, and I  compliment and congratulate you for all of the things that you may support if they are biblically based and they are carrying out what God tells ministry to carry out.
 
But I would also remind you that according to the Scripture, your tithe and the big chunk of your offering is to come to your local church. The local church has needs and it is the responsibility of the membership of that church to support and provide for those needs through its tithes and offerings. 
 
Now when the Lord explains giving, notice that He says to give so that there might be meat in His house.  In other words, the needs of God’s ministry are to be provided for by the tithe.  Give to the needs of your local church.
Let me just talk to you about the needs of your local church.
 
We are a tremendously active church.  Just like at the calendar or the budget and you will see that we are involved in multiple ministries and missions endeavors.  All of that has a price tag that goes with it. 
 
God has provided us with this wonderful building, but buildings require upkeep and repair and maintenance and utilities.  Guess what?  They turn off the lights at the church building for unpaid bills just as they do at your house or mine.   
 
We are blessed with a staff that loves the Lord and faithfully serves both you and God and it is our responsibility to provide for staff needs through the tithe. 
 
Those are just three of the areas of our work that are directly impacted by tithes and offerings.
 
Soon we will be considering some plans for the future so we can provide parking and educational space and upgrades to the buildings.   
 
Therefore, we are faced with this tremendous challenge in the matter of our giving.
 
And I will tell you this summer has been particularly challenging.  At the time of year when we are typically the busiest, our giving has been the lowest.  That creates quite a dilemma.  Twice through the summer we’ve had to draw from savings and our designated account to pay the bills.
 
We are behind in our missions commitments to the Cooperative Program and Enon Association. 
 
So to address those needs and get back on our feet a little we are going to have a Catch Up Offering on October 7.  The goal for the day is $25,000.
 
In order to do that, some of you are going to have to loosen up a little.  You may be getting tight with your money. 
 
And I know what some are thinking.  I’m already giving and some never give anything.  That’s right!  And that’s why some of you need to get beyond a dollar or two and decide to trust God with your finances and begin to tithe. 
 
October 7 would be a good time to start.  That’s how it works.  That’s how the work gets done.  That’ how ministry gets done.  That’s how missions are done. 
 
That’s what God is explaining. Bring the tithe to the storehouse so there will be meat in my house.    
 
The first reasons you ought to give is because the Lord expects it.
 
Number two, you ought to give because the Lord explains it.
 
Here’s the third reason.  You ought to give the tithe because--
 
3. The Lord Exalts It
 
Did you notice what God does right in the middle of this tithing passage?
He takes this command to give the tithe and He lifts this tithing business to the level of a promise.
 
He says, "Try me now in this and see if I will not
open you the windows of heaven."
 
He exalts tithing to the level of a promise.
 
Now there are three kinds of promises in the Bible God makes to us.
 
There are future promises. Here's one. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch angel and the trump of God."
 
That's the future promise that Jesus is going to come again and it's a marvelous promise.
 
Then there's the unconditional promises. God makes certain promises to you that are absolutely unconditional. God promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." That is totally unconditional and based on the character of God himself.
 
Then there are some promises that are conditional promises. God says you meet this condition, then I'll do that.  That's what He has done with the tithe.  He has lifted it to the level of a promise but the promise is based on a condition. 
 
God says, “Put Me to the test by bringing the tithe to the storehouse and see if I won’t I will pour you out a blessing.
 
The word “try” is translated "prove" in some versions, and it means to test.
 
It was used of metals to test metals to see if they were genuine. God says, "Test me. See if I'm the real thing. See if I'm the genuine article. See if I'm real."
 
This is the place in the whole Bible that God tells us to test Him. "Try me. Put me to the test. Check me out and just see if I can take care of you."
 
The reason I think a lot of people don't tithe is that they don't think they are able to. They just don't think they can. But what you have to understand is - you don't start tithing on the basis of what other people think or say. You don't tithe on the basis of your circumstances. You certainly don't tithe on the basis of the economy.
 
The devil will try to convince us we can’t afford to tithe.  The economy is down and getting worse.  Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the election.  Well if you don’t get anything else get this:
 
God's people don't give on the basis of the state of the economy. God's people give on the basis of the promises of God."
 
The fact of the matter is that God's people have historically given more in hard times than they have in good times. In the depths of the depression, the average church member gave 3.3 percent of his or her income to the Lord's work. It's only about 2.5 percent now, if I recall correctly.
 
So we don't give on the basis of the economy; we give on the basis of trusting God. Put Him to the test! 
 
There's not a lot of trust in this world, is there? I heard about someone who called the office of Honeywell and Jones. The receptionist said, "This is the office of Honeywell and Jones."
 
He said, "I would like to speak to Mr. Jones."
 
"Mr. Jones is out of town."
 
"Well, let me speak to Mr. Honeywell, please."
 
"Mr. Honeywell is tied up."
 
The caller irately said, "What kind of business is that? Jones is out of town and Honeywell is tied up."
 
The receptionist said, "Well, Mr. Jones always ties up
Mr. Honeywell when he goes out of town."
 
Not a lot of trust in this old world, is there?
 
Can you trust God? Well let me tell you this:  if God can't take care of us, the sooner we find out the better.
 
The thing to do is just go on and jump in and find out.  They tell me there are two kinds of people who visit the ocean.  One kind jumps on in. It's a shock at first, but they get adjusted and then rather enjoy it. Others kind of inch in a toenail at a time. They are always afraid of what’s going t happen. 
 
When it comes to trusting God, I say jump in!  Try Him!  Test Him! 
 
 
 
Well, I’m going to start with a dollar or two and see how that works!  No!  He didn’t promise to bless a dollar or two.  He promised to bless the tithe!   
 
Just go ahead and jump in.
 
"I can't afford it." Let me ask you a question. Did you wait to get married until you could afford it?
 
Let me read you a poem.
 
The bride bent with age, leaned over her cane.
Her steps uncertain need guiding.
While down the church aisle, with a wane, toothless
smile
Comes the groom in a wheelchair gliding.
Who is this elderly couple thus wed.
You'll find when you closely explore it
That this is that rare, most conservative pair
Who waited until they could afford it?
 
If you wait until you can afford it, you are not going
to ever do it.
 
Did you wait to have kids until you could afford it?  You may have thought you could afford it but you couldn’t!  Jump on in the water!
 
God says you prove and God says I will pour. I'll open the windows of heaven and I'll pour you out a blessing. God says you open your wallet and I'll open
my windows.
 
I can't promise you that you will get rich if you become a tither. 
 
 
I can't promise you that if you begin to tithe your salary will increase, but I've known it to happen.
 
I can't promise you that if you begin to tithe you will
get a better job. But I've known it to happen.
 
I'll tell you what I can promise you. If you will begin to give God the tithe I promise you that God will bless you in ways you can never imagine. Maybe He will bless you in your children. Maybe He will bless you in your relationships. Maybe He will bless you by meeting your needs in difficult times when you didn't know where the help was coming from.
 
I'm just simply saying to you that God has made you a promise. Put Him to the test and see what happens. 
 
Then here’s the final thing.  Right in the middle of verse 10 there is a critical word. 
 
Try Me . . .when?  “Now” in this, says the Lord. 
 
God says do it now!
 
Let's bow our heads in prayer.
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