Malachi 3:8, 10
8“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings… 10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try 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 such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Recently, several people have asked how we collect tithes and offerings at Trinity Church. Apparently we aren’t doing a very good job of advertising! So for those who aren’t aware, we have a box labeled “Tithes and Offerings” that sits out in the foyer and in which you can put your giving – though you can also give online. Some of you may also be unaware that during our Lord’s Day worship, we bring these tithes and offerings forward as part of our worship. Each Sunday we sing a song of praise and thanksgiving for the Lord’s blessings while the man offering our prayer of thanksgiving brings the tithes and offerings forward and places them on the floor in front of the communion table.
The reason we do this is that the Scriptures have much to say about wealth because true faith reveals itself in the way we handle our wealth. Consider three things the Scriptures teach us about wealth. First, they insist that wealth is a blessing and a gift from God. So in our text today, the Lord promises to pour out His blessing on those who honor Him with their wealth. And Solomon reminds us,“The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Pr 10:22). While others may strive to add sorrow to your wealth, God doesn’t. Abraham, Jacob, Job, David, Joseph of Arimethea, Philemon – all these were righteous men who were also wealthy. So Paul instructs Timothy, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:18). Wealth is a blessing and a gift from God.
Second, while wealth itself is not a problem, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. So, in our text, the Israelites’ love of money made them guilty of robbing God. And in our Lord’s parable of the sower, the seed that is sown among thorns and choked out describes those who “hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mk 4:19). Hence, Jesus warned that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk 10:25). And Paul warned Timothy that “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:9-10). The love of money is a dangerous snare.
Third, the Scriptures teach that a central way we affirm that wealth is a gift from God and that the love of it is a dangerous snare is by being open-handed with our wealth. Such generosity reveals itself in tithes and offerings. First, tithes. Our tithe is ten percent of our increase in wealth that we return to the Lord as tribute. The tithe affirms that God has given us our wealth and that all we have belongs to Him. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,” God commands through Malachi. Bring your tithe into the very house of God, the church of God. Why? To testify that God is your Lord and that He has given you your vocational work as your divine calling. The tithe testifies that your daily labor is not a distraction from God’s service but one of the principal ways that you serve Him. The tithe is part of your worship of God and reveals that you live for love of Him not for love of money.
Above and beyond these tithes are offerings – gifts of generosity that we offer to those in need, to worthy institutions, to family and friends. The righteous man is known for His generosity. As Psalm 112 attests:
1Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments. 2His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. 3Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. 4Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. 5A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. (Ps 112:1–5)
A good man deals graciously and lends; he is gracious and full of compassion. So what of you? Have you given thanks for the wealth you have received? Have you been careful to shun the love of money? And have you been open-handed with your wealth – faithfully giving your tithes to the Lord and regularly looking for opportunities to bless others with your wealth? Reminded that God has given us richly all things to enjoy and to share, let us confess that we often fail to pay tribute to God with our tithes, that we are often close-fisted rather than open-handed with our wealth, and that our hearts are often tempted by the deceitfulness of riches. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess our sins to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.