¡°TITHING IS INVESTING¡± By Pastor Yau
Text: Malachi 3:7-12 May 4, 2014.
1) Investment in this world: Ever since the beginning of history, men learned the importance of investment: Be it in family, in business, in education, in friendship or relationship, just to list a few. For centuries, people also learned to invest money for better return like in the story of the Talents. (Matthew 25) Regardless of the purpose of investment for immediate returns or for future needs such as in retirement years investment is important to all people. Those who are good in investment enjoy the fruits of their decision, sacrifice on the immediate gratification for a much better future of life. In order to do well in investment, we need to learn from the experts, read their writing, listen to the best strategists, planners, advisers, and make wise choices in most cases. In order to invest, you have to give your money to investment account. You can not use that money for anything you want now.
2) Investment in the Bible: God also advised his people to make good choices of investment: Money, time, energy, opportunity and love. Countless people of God made godly decisions to invest their resources or even their lives for the kingdom of God. The beautiful building and all the grounds, amenities we see and enjoy today is the result of investments of many faithful members of this church. Many souls were led to Christ because of investments of love and time of many faithful Christians. God also wants to see us invest in his kingdom through his church and all the ministries in it. We see many faithful members of this church invest countless among of resource, love, service and money to grow the church. Without these investments, we won't have the church as it is. But not all God's people understand the value of investment in God and God's work.
BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF GIVING TITHES:
1) Abraham gave the first tithe: ¡°And Abraham gave him a tenth of every-thing.¡± (Genesis 14:20) This gift of one tenth is the first in record of tithe in the Bible. It was given to Melchizedek, king of Salem, who was widely recognized as representative of the Almighty God. Because God protected Abraham, gave him victory over his enemies and brought back all that was captured by the enemies, Lot, and his family and all their properties. When Abraham recovered all his losses, he gave the tithe to the priest.
2) Israelis gave tithes at revival: ¡°As soon as the order went out, the Israelis gave generously their first-fruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The men of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought their tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy thing dedicated to the Lord their God, and they pile them in heaps.¡± (2 Chron. 31:5-6) This is an event in the great revival of Israel during the reign of King Hezekiah and it continued from March to July. At a time of spiritual revival, people express their commitment and love to their God by bringing in their tithes in many ways that there was no room to store their gifts but just piled up in large heaps. Giving is a sign and measure of spiritual condition: The higher our spiritual life in God, the more we are willing to give to God. Jesus said it aptly that ¡°where your money is, there your heart will be also.¡± (Matt. 6:21) If your heart is truly with God, you will give tithes as God has asked.
3) It was practiced by the devoted: ¡°I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.¡± (Luke 18:12) Although this is part of a prayer of a proud Pharisee used by Jesus in his parable of true devotion, it is an accurate account of practice by the good Jews at the time of Jesus. The motive of giving by this Pharisee may not be right, but it is evident that tithing is an important part of law and practice even in the NT time. Compare with the account of giving tithe by Abraham, giving of tithes has been kept true and faithful through all those thousands of years amount God's faithful people. It also has been kept by millions of faithful Christians throughout the recent 2,000 years of history.
THE WRONGS OF THE UNFAITHFUL: (Malachi 3:8)
1) They had robbed God: ¡°Will a man rob God? Yet you robbed me.¡± (3:8) Robbing isn't the same as stealing. Stealing is done in secret when the owner isn't there. But robbing is taking from the owner as the he was looking on. The Israelis in the Old Testament time robbed God while God was looking at their action. Both the Israelis in the OT time and Christians in the NT time, God's children rob what belong to God, the tithes and offerings.
2) They violated commands: ¡°But you ask: How do we rob you? In Tithes and offerings.¡± (3:8b) Just in the OT, more than 2 dozen times asked the Israelis to give a tenth to the Lord. ¡°A tithe (one tenth) of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruits from the trees, belong to the Lord. It is holy to the Lord.¡± (Lev. 27:30) ¡°Holy¡± means to be set aside for the Lord. While God's people didn't follow the law God set forth in the Bible, they did not know they had violated the commands God has set for them.
3) They failed on ownership: ¡°To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.¡± (Deut. 10:14) These are words of Moses declared to the Israelis on the total ownership of every-thing on earth and in heaven by the Lord. The Bible in many places commands that 10% of all our harvests, income or earning ¡°belong¡± to the Lord. If worldly government that gives nothing to its people has the right to demand taxes from 15% to 45% or more, how much more does God have the right to demand 10% of our income be set aside as tithes for him? In fact, all that we are and what we have belong to God: our life, our strength, all the opportunities, wisdom and the environment are gifts of God, and without God and all his gifts, we can make nothing, own nothing. The tithe (1/10) in fact is a very small part of all God has given us. When we give it back to God what belongs to Him in the first place is not just legitimate but morally right. To withhold the tithe to God is to rob God of what is his, that is a serious sin in God's eyes and it may have serious consequences.
GIVING TITHE MATTERS TO GOD: (Malachi 3:9-12)
1) God punishing the failures: ¡°You are under a curse¡ªthe whole nation of you¡ªbecause you are robbing me.¡± (3:9) Very scarcely God pronounced his curse on his people, but here we see it clearly He cursed the Israelis because of their robbing God of the tithes and offerings. God demands their tithes and offerings not because God was in need of anything, but because it is the best way to show their love to God and respect of God's command in their faithful giving. No one wants to be under any curse, much less the curse of God. All that God has to do is to withhold his protection or blessing on us, we definitely will be in dire trouble without his love and protection. Don't try to outsmart God or to risk his cursing by failure of giving God tithes.
2) God's house needs be filled: ¡°Bring the whole tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.¡± (3:10) Here God demands that we bring in the ¡°whole¡± tithe, not parts of the tithe to his house (the church) so there will be plenty of supply to do God's work. ¡°Whole¡± means complete, full without discount or any cutback. Bringing the complete 1/10 to God's house is never an option or a choice, but a straight command of God. The tithes is God's. Any other giving is called offerings. No one may cut short of the tithe and give it to other courses. If you want to give to other courses, give all you can from your portion, never cut from God's tithe. God commands that we bring the tithes to his house, not to anywhere else. The tithe is God's, and it belongs to God's house. If anyone cuts the tithe to give to others, he is in risk of God's punishment. Read 3:10 again and better be faithful than sorry.
3) God's blessing on the faithful: ¡°Test me in this: Says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.¡± (3:10b) This is not a threat of harm but a promise of blessing from God on those who are faithful in giving tithes (not ¡°giving little¡± as many would say in prayers). Read on the rest of the text 3:11-12, and count how much God may bless you if you are faithful in giving the full tithes to God. The blessing include works we do, business we run, will grow to fullest extend without damages or attacks. It also blessings of respect from others and prosperity and joy in the land and your family. What a good deal to give only 1/10 of what you make to put yourself in those group of people God promises to pour his blessing much more than you can afford to hold.
1) Tithing is best investment: ¡°Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be pour into your lap. For with the measure you use in giving, it will be measured to you.¡± (Luke 6:38) Have you ever heard of anything from any investment adviser that your investment return will be like what God has promised us: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over than what you can hold? No one may outsmart God by cutting his tithes from God and still is sure of God's blessing. Investing in God with your faithful tithes is never a losing business but a sure strategy of much gain beyond your imagination.
2) Tithing is for eternity: ¡°Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth...but store up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.¡± (Matt 6:19-20) God doesn't need us to bring anything to heaven to make him rich or richer. This parable is about the preparation we need before we go to heaven: store up treasures in heaven is much better than store it up on earth. Besides the risks of moth, rust and thief, our life on earth is so short and uncertain. While we are here, able to do planning and storing our treasures, why don't we invest in heaven where we will eventually live for the rest of eternity? Be a wise investor: Give tithes and more to God and store up treasures in heaven where you will enjoy the rest of your soul.