Today, listen to tremendous truths about “God’s Plan for Your Money.” When we tithe faithfully, God will “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Each time we give, we’re blessed. In fact, as Derek reveals: “Giving is insurance against bad times.”
It’s good to be with you again, as we draw near to the close of another week. Our theme this week has been “God’s Plan for Your Money.”
Yesterday I explained to you a simple way that is both practical and scriptural to put God first in handling your money and that is by consistently setting aside for God the first tenth of your income, a practice which is known traditionally as “tithing”—because in Old English the word for “the tenth set apart to God” was “tithe.” And so, regularly, systematically, setting apart the first tenth of your income for God is called “tithing.”
And let me point out how practical that is. If God had asked the first seventh or the first thirteenth, it would have been a real mathematical problem for some of us. But the tenth anybody can handle. Everybody knows how you find the tenth—you just move the decimal place one point to the left and that’s your tithe. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to know what your tithe is.
I traced this practice of tithing all the way back to the great father of all believers, Abraham, and then through Jacob and Israel right on into the New Testament in the priesthood of Jesus Himself. The New Testament points out in Hebrews 7 and 8 that Jesus is our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. And it emphasizes in chapter 8 very repeatedly that Melchizedek received a tithe of Abraham. In other words, it’s part of the priesthood of Melchizedek to receive the tithes of God’s believing people and Jesus is in the same order; therefore, we acknowledge Him as our High Priest when we do what Abraham did when we give Him the tenth of all.
Today I’m going to share with you how God Himself actually challenges us to put Him to the test by following these scriptural examples of tithing. I’m going to read from Malachi 3:7–12. God is speaking to Israel:
“‘Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. [The Lord is saying, ‘You haven’t obeyed Me. I want you to turn back to Me.’ And there’s a kind of dialogue that follows in which Israel says, ‘Well, what do you want us to do?’] “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. [What a terrible thought.] But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.”
Notice, withholding God’s appointed portion is called “robbing God.” You wouldn’t rob man but are you perhaps guilty of robbing God? Then God goes on with the remedy, or rather, first of all, He tells them the result of robbing God.
“‘You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. [And then He points out the remedy in verse 10 of Malachi 3:] Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. [That’s the remedy: ‘Bring the whole tithe into God’s storehouse.’ And then He says:] Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘And see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’”
When does God promise the blessing? Upon what condition? That we bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. And then He says, “Test Me. See if I’ll do what I’ve promised.” In other words, we have to act in faith. God requires that we test Him, we put Him to the test and we do it with our finance. Then He goes on to speak of further results.
“‘I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
So, God says, “If you’ll honor Me that way, I’ll pour out such a blessing you won’t find room to contain it. I’ll prevent the pests, the Devourer, from eating up anything that’s yours and all nations will look at you and say, ‘Well, that’s a blessed people. God has truly blessed and prospered them.’” All that is promised as a result of bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse.
Now let me sum up a few points from that. First of all, for more than one thousand years, God kept a record of Israel’s giving. He had required them to give the tithe to Him more than a thousand years earlier and then at a certain point He comes up and says, “I’ve kept a record. You’ve been robbing Me.” So, remember, God keeps a record.
Second, keeping back God’s portion is robbery—not robbery of man, but robbery of God. And it brings a curse upon those who do it.
On the other hand, the third point, faithful complete tithing brings a blessing and through the results God is glorified in the blessing that comes on His people.
And fourth, it is a test of our faith and of God’s faithfulness. Note: It has to be done in faith.
Now, God says, “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse.” Let’s consider, for a moment, what is the storehouse and I want to illustrate this from the natural. In the natural, what is the storehouse? I want to suggest to you it’s two things: it’s the place where we get the food we eat and it’s the place from which we obtain seed to sow in the lives of others. Now you, as a Christian, receive your spiritual food from certain source or sources and you receive what you need to sow in the lives of others probably from the same source. So wherever that source is, that’s your storehouse, that’s where you need to bring your tithe. Now, if you belong to a local church which meets those needs, then by all means that’s your storehouse. Be faithful to tithe there. But there are many, many Christians today who are not privileged that way. And you have to consider what is the source of your food and the seed that you sow.
And let me close with a little parable, which I won’t seek to interpret. Normally, you don’t eat in the Holiday Inn and pay your bill at Howard Johnson.
Now, I must go on to point out that tithing is not the end of giving to God, it’s the beginning. It lays a foundation for our systematic, continual giving to God. The Bible also speaks of things in two other main categories: offerings and alms. We really don’t offer our tithe to God because it’s His legal portion. But above our tithe, that which we give is offerings. Look at all the options Israel had and they are stated in Deuteronomy 12:6. God says:
“...bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.”
So, there are tithes plus six specific kinds of offerings. Let me just point them out to you: burnt offerings, sacrifices, special gifts, what you have vowed, freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. In other words, there’s a very wide range of different kinds of offerings that we can give to God. But we don’t offer our tithe, we simply return to God that which is His scriptural portion.
And then, in addition, there are what the Bible calls “alms,” or what is probably called in most places today, “charity.” That is not what we give to God, that is what we give to men who are in need—to the poor and to the afflicted. The Bible has a lot to say about that, a lot more than many Christians have heard. This is what Jesus says in Luke 12:32–34:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Where you put your money is where your heart is. You cannot have your money in one place, your heart in another. And Jesus says, “Act like children of a king. Your Father has given you the kingdom so you can afford to be generous. Give to the poor, lay up treasure for yourself in heaven.” And then, in Ecclesiastes 11:1–2, in the Old Testament, there’s another marvelous picture of what we do when we give to the poor. It says there:
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”
I hope you can see the point in that. When you give to the poor, then you are laying up insurance with God. The writer says, “Give to seven”—that’s your duty—“and to eight”—go a little beyond duty, “because you don’t know what disaster might come upon the earth.” In other words, if you do what God says with your money, when the disaster comes, God will take care of you. That’s His guarantee, that’s your insurance. Giving is an insurance against bad times.
Let me mention, in closing, the testimony of Oswald J. Smith, who was pastor of the People’s Church in Toronto, Canada, for many years. And during the Depression, from the 1930s onwards, he wrote in a book that hundreds of men in need came to his office every day to ask for financial help from the church and he said they gave it to hundreds. But he said he always checked with each man whether that man had been faithful when he had an income to give the tithe to God. And he said in all his experience, no man that came for help in need had ever been faithful in tithing. He concluded that God took care of all those who faithfully tithed.
Well, our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. Next week I’ll be continuing with this theme of “God’s Plan for Your Money.”
My special offer this week is my book, Faith to Live By. This book places in your hand the essential key to finding and fulfilling God’s plan for your life—that is, faith. It explains in simple, practical language what faith is, what faith will do for you, and most important of all, how you can get faith even if you have none to start with. Also my complete series of messages this week on “God’s Plan for Your Money, Part 1" is available in a single, carefully-edited cassette. Stay tuned for details.