Give

Seems like the best time of year to talk about giving, seeing as Christmas is just around the corner.  People are more likely to be in a giving mood.  Sure it’s easy to buy a present every now and then for someone else on Christmas or their birthday, but did you know God wants you to give regularly to Him throughout the year too? …even if you’re in University….and there’s a recession…especially if it may “hurt” a little bit.

Check out what God has to say about giving in Malachi chapter 1.

1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.[a]

Israel Doubts God’s Love

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

Breaking Covenant Through Blemished Sacrifices

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

“By offering defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

“Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.

10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

12 “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.

“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.

This comes as a shock to many Christians who think that the money they earn is theirs, forgetting that God made everything, including them, and it is God who gives someone the ability to work and make money.

You may say that it’s still too much to give back to God.  He only wants 10% of your income back…and as Malachi has made it quite clear, it is to be a tenth of the best that you have.  That means taking the 10% out of your cheque first instead of waiting til the end of the week so that God can have the left overs.  Most of our wealth today comes from money and that is why we give him (or at least we should give him) 10% of what we make in the run of the week if we are involved in a church.  It helps keep the particular church going and gives funds so that the church can help others in need as we are all called to do in Micah 6.

Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before your God.

For all you know, one day you might be in need yourself.  So it’s good to give what you can while you can.   Also it’s only 10% of your income…you still have the other 90% to live on.  I barely notice it’s gone when I give each Sunday…AND you make it all back in your next cheque anyway.

Occasionally God requires more than just a tithe (a fancy way of saying 10%) of income

Since Israel was a farming community God required more than just their money.

“‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.

Leviticus 27:30

God may require more of you than just your money.   This is not always a bad thing, most of the time you’ll find  it’s something you enjoy doing, like playing guitar in a worship team, or looking after someone else’s kids for an evening.  These are ways we can offer our time, as well as our talents (that God gave us) back to God.
When Israel did not bring in the whole 10% there were strict consequences…
Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it.

Acts 5:1-11

New International Version (NIV)

Ananias and Sapphira

5 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

These days, by the grace of God, you may find that God just might not kill you for not bringing in your whole 10% offering, but churches who get into the habit of not tithing properly as a group.  (this doesn’t mean that everyone is not tithing properly…but enough people are slacking off to make a negative difference) then the church may find that it is unable to fulfill its Micah 6 duty when needy people call the church office asking for help getting heating oil in the winter.

We like to shrug it off and call it something fancy like a “deficit” when really it is just tithe laziness.  Churches would  be able to meet their budgets if everyone contributed what the amounts they were supposed to.  Some blame it on vacation.  If you go on vacation, double up your contribution the week before or something.  It’s not as easy to play catch up when you get behind.   Doing it this way will take a load off your mind.

Other church members will go on a sort of  “pay as you go” plan.  As if the Church was some sort of social club and they just pay what they think the service was worth to them.  This is usually far below the 10% tithe mark.

This is not to say that everyone has these problems with giving.  There are some who give beyond the 10% requirement.  Some give until it hurts.  I’m not saying go sell everything you have and live in complete destitution.  You should be able to pay your bills and mortgage, but chances are, if you have bills and a mortgage, you’ve got some cash left over too.

Are you still finding it difficult to give after all this?  Good.  I’ll close with one more thing.  We find it hard to give that 10% back to God every week in church.  Think about how hard it was for God to give up his one and only son (Jesus Christ…who is God in human form…because that’s how the trinity works) whom He loved very much, to be beaten, bruised, spit on, flogged, have nails hammered through him, and then spend the better part of a day dying on a cross for our sins, paying the price that is demanded for each one of us repairing the broken relationship our sins caused between us and God.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God gave absolutely everything he had so that one day some of us might come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour of our lives and some other day when Jesus comes back and God makes all things new, we might be able to be with them in Heaven, in an unrestricted,  relationship with God once again as He originally intended it….and he only wants 10% from us.
Is it so hard now?

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