The Blessing of Tithing Selected Scriptures How we handle our money can be confusing matter. Take Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip “Dilbert.” He has an interesting concept on giving. He says, “You can either be good or you can be comfortable. Now, most people choose to „solve‟ the problem by giving 10 percent of their income or some other number they feel comfortable with. But if there are people literally dying because they don‟t give 15 percent, are they good? They‟re not even a little better. . .” [of course the huge presumption Scott making is that money can „solve‟ every dilemma or „heal‟ every ailment—“people die because they just didn‟t have enough money to get well!” He‟s a confused man.] Anyhow, he continues, “And I‟m not immune to this problem. I don‟t give 100 percent. So I‟m evil. The only thing that‟s different is that I walk through every day of my life thinking, „I‟m a little bit evil.‟” Thanks for clearing that up for us, Scotty! Or how about the teenage girl in Yo! Magazine who said, “Success in America isn‟t measured by how much money you have but by how much money you spend. . . . Forget who you are as a person—the important question is what did you buy last?” I. Who says it‘s more blessed to give than to receive? A. Jesus says so. In Acts 20:35 we read, ―In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‗It is more blessed to give than to receive‘‖ (NASU). B. So the question is really, How blessed do you want to be? 1. In Malachi 3:10, God says if his people give him a ten percent of their earnings, he will pull out all the stops to bless them physically. ―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 (until there is not room enough)‖ (NASU). 2. God actually gives his people permission to test him in their giving. a) The Hebrew word for test means “examine.” b) God says to check him out and see that his word is reliable. I‟m reminded of an encounter David Braddock told me about, involving a preacher and a member of his church. The man said, “You know Pastor, when I was making $50 a week it didn‟t bother me to be tithing $5 a week. But now that I‟m pulling in $2500 a week I find it difficult to put that much money in the offering plate each week. I just don‟t feel comfortable giving my tithe like I used to.” The Pastor, obviously inspired with wisdom from above, knew exactly what to do. Brother, let me pray for you. They joined hands and the Pastor begin praying, “Dear Lord, please bring my Brother‟s income down to a level where he can feel comfortable tithing again . . .” Immediately the man said, “No, no, no. That‟s okay. I understand. I get your point.” We can test God, but sometimes He tests us right back! How blessed do you want to be? 3. Jesus repeats God‟s promise of blessing in Luke 6:38 – ―Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure— pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return‖ (NASU). but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.‖ The Message reads, ―Give away your life; you‘ll find life given back, How much of what you do as a Christian is motivated by what you can get? Of what‟s in it for me? Of how it makes you look in the eyes of others? Contrasted with how much of what you do is inspired simply by what you have to give? Your time, money, prayers, love, etc. Of what‟s in it for those you‟re serving? Of how it makes you look in the eyes of God? God PROMISES “bonus and blessing” or, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” God GUARANTEES the windows of heaven will be opened so His blessings can be showered down „like cats and dogs.‟ Overflowing! Can‟t be contained! C. If this is so, why doesn‟t every Christian tithe? 1. Some may be afraid God won‟t really keep his word. Few actually admit this, but actions indicate attitude. 2. Others are opposed to the “health and wealth gospel” (“giving to get,” or, “a heavenly retirement plan,” or a “spiritual stock market investment plan,” or a “buy a lotto ticket for Jesus” approach—the odds are in your favor). By the way, did you know that buying 50 Lotto tickets every week increases your chances of winning the jackpot to about once in every 5,000 YEARS! God wants to bless us in this lifetime, as well as for eternity! a) Malachi 3:10 and Luke 6:38 were not written to encourage manipulating God through selfishness. After all, He knows our hearts! b) Passages on the rewards of giving show that God wants to work through us, but we must trust him to provide. 3. Some Christians aren‟t convinced tithing is still part of God‟s plan. VIDEO SET UP: What you‟re about to see is not a hidden camera investigation. All of the participants are real. No names or faces have been changed. The location for this report was in Richardson, Texas at Central Christian Church. The time was January 12th last Wednesday night. We sent out our top notch news team: roving street reporter, Lisa Rodgers and ace camera man, Stan Carman to investigate this controversial and confusing issue of tithing in the church. What you are about to see and hear are the unedited responses of your children. Brace yourself—this is as real as it gets! [RUN VIDEO CLIP] II. Tithing Is Still God‘s Plan For Today. A. Tithing was common to first-century Christians. 1. Both Jewish Christians and Gentile converts practiced the Old Testament teaching of tithing. a) Tithing refers to the practice of giving a tenth of a person‟s income, including money, crops, and animals. b) “Tithing” is referred to over 50 times in the Bible (“Tithe” is found 13 times, “tithes” 13 times, and “tenth” is found 25 times). c) The New Testament refers to tithing in the life of Jesus (Luke 18:12). We see it used with the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23. This is in the scathing rebuke from Jesus to the Pharisees (subtitled the “Eight Woes”). Remember, a “woe” is “a guttural outcry of anger, pain, or both. . . In the New Testament it is used to speak of sorrow, and of judgment, carrying the mingled ideas of punishment and pity, cursing and compassion.” Jesus was certifying the fact that these Pharisees had already been condemned. ―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‖ (NASU). We see tithing used with Abraham in Hebrews 7:2, which says, ―to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils…‖ (NASU). 2. The impact of Old Testament teaching for us shouldn‟t be ignored today. a) We‟re not “under the law,” but Paul told Timothy that all Scripture is inspires and useful (2 Timothy 3:16). b) The Old Testament gives examples for instruction and encouragement (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). c) When used correctly, the Old Testament gives valuable insights for Christians today. B. Tithing was not limited to the Law of Moses. 1. Tithing was instituted before the Law of Moses. 2. Abraham (in Hebrews 7:2) and Jacob tithed before Moses. In Genesis 28:22 we read, ―This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God‘s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You‖ (NASU). 3. Many pagan cultures tithed—Egypt, Babylon, Assyria. 4. People tithed because of its great spiritual significance, not just because a religious law commanded it. C. Tithing symbolizes gratitude to God. 1. Giving a tenth symbolizes that God actually owns the whole. 2. Tithing demonstrates our faith in God to control our finances. Giving a tenth back to the source of our blessing signifies gratitude. 3. In many cases, immediately after the first harvest, the owner gave a tenth to God (“first-fruit” giving). a) Examples of first-fruit giving may be found in Exodus 23:16; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Proverbs 3:9. b) First-fruit giving showed trust in God to provide the rest of the harvest. D. Tithing strengthens our devotion to the Lord. 1. The discipline of tithing helps eliminate unwise spending habits. 2. Tithing expands the amount of good we do for the Lord. 3. Tithing helps us stay on track spiritually. A U.S. & WORLD REPORT (12/8/97) article entitled, “The Junk Mail Deluge” says: “The people who fill your mailbox with 34 pounds of junk mail each year know what you paid for your moose-hide slippers and whether you paid by check or credit card. They know how much you owe on your house, whether your hobbies are fly-fishing or fiddling, whether you buy used golf balls . . . they may even know whether you‟re straight or gay, and what chronic illness you have. They know all this, simply, because it is their business to know . . . Direct mail is a booming industry because it targets us with scientific precision.” The junk mail moguls have discovered something that Jesus taught long ago when he said, ―for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also‖ (Matt. 6:21). The way we use money (as evidenced by the thousands of transactions we make each year by check, cash, or credit cards) gives the best evidence for the things we value and cherish most. Tithing helps us stay on track spiritually. Warren Wiersbe concisely concludes , “Material wealth is either a window through which we see God or a mirror in which we see ourselves.” I. WHO SAYS ITS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE? JESUS! II. TITHING IS STILL GOD‘S PLAN TODAY. It was common to the first-century Christians. It symbolizes gratitude to God. It strengthens our devotion to the Lord. III. Tithing Assures Great Blessings From God (Acts 20:35). A. God pours out blessings from heaven as we obey him by tithing. As Dr. Kregg Hood stated in chapter two of his book, “We don‟t give to be blessed, we give because we are blessed.” 1. God promises abundant physical provision Malachi 3:9-10, ―You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing [defrauding] 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‖ (NASU). 2. Jesus promises to care for physical needs when we put him first. Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus says, ―Do not worry then, saying, ‗What will we eat?‘ or ‗What will we drink?‘ or ‗What will we wear for clothing?‘  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you‖ (NASU). B. If everyone tithed, the Lord‟s work would thrive. 1. The average contribution in American churches is approximately 2.5 percent. 2. Tithing could increase every congregation‟s budget by 400 percent. 3. Imagine the attitude and excitement of a church where a generous spirit is common; the building would be full in no time! C. Again, Dr. Hood challenges us in his book: “It‟s not a matter of whether or not you can afford to tithe, it‟s whether or not you can afford not to.” God encourages us to test him by tithing, and he warns us to be prepared to receive unbelievable blessings. TRUE STORIES of two Christian educational institutions here in Dallas. Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 1924, it almost went bankrupt! All the creditors were going to foreclose at NOON on a certain day. That morning leaders of the school met in the President‟s office for prayer that God would provide. One of the men prayed this way, “Lord, we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine! Please sell some of them and send us the money!” While they were praying a man walked up to the business office and said: “I just sold 2 carloads of cattle in Ft. Worth. I‟ve been trying to make a business deal but it fell through. I feel compelled to give the money to the school. I don‟t know if you need it or not but here‟s the check!” Knowing how critical the situation was the secretary went to the President‟s door and timidly knocked. The President answered the door and took the check out of her hand. It was exactly the amount of the debt. The President looked at the name on the check. He recognized the cattleman in Ft. Worth. He then turned to the fella who had prayed and said: “Harry, God sold the cattle!” Here‟s another story—similar—true—but even closer to home. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees sent out this letter July 1, 1994. “I am privileged to announce God has sold our land in Crowell, Texas and given us part of the money. Some of you may remember, we received this land a couple of years back in a family will. Last year at our audit we were allowed to post on our books the estimated value of $50,000. . . . Most everyone said this figure was an inflated amount regarding the actual value and sale-ability of the land. Many felt $25,000 would be a more realistic sale price. I am pleased to let you know that God had other things in mind. The check total for this property was $100,417.30. Make special note that this is almost exactly the $100,000 deficit we‟ve been carrying for almost 2 years. . . . God has turned a small piece of property in a remote West Texas town into enough capital to pay our overdue bills!” Signed, Bobby Duncan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Dallas Christian College. God encourages us to test him by tithing, and he warns us to be prepared to receive unbelievable blessings! Giving is not an expense, it is an opportunity!