How many sermons have you heard on the topics of tithing, giving, and Malachi 3:10? If you've been in church, you're sure to have heard it in your lifetime more than once. Let me quickly share one point that makes a HUGE difference in the way you HEAR this message. While many will teach that God's insistence to "Test me on this!" is about money, it isn't.
So many people have mistaken God's promise as one for earthly prosperity as a result of giving a tithe. Preachers have recklessly misled countless people toward a "give and God will reward you" mentality.
The key to this passage of scripture isn't the blessings of our giving, it is the blessings of God's faithfulness.
God is asking His people to put His faithfulness to the test. Without question God is saying that if we are faithful in our covenant relationship to Him we will be blessed, but the blessing will come from His faithfulness, not our gifts. Don't misunderstand me, I do believe that God is saying He will honor our giving, but the honor will come from our faithful attitude and heart, not from the amount of our gift. It is in this principle that God blesses people.
When we add this to our conversation from last week - Generosity starts by TRUSTING the One who has entrusted so much to us - we understand that GIVING IS TRUST IN ACTION. We begin giving ... living generous lives ... because we trust in and place our faith in God's faithfulness to us. We live lives that reflect a trust in Him, and that enables us to give more and more. When we trust more, we give more ... and God blesses more, through His generous faithfulness. Check this out:
"Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they'll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!"
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (The Message)
When we give, we trust God to take care of us. In His faithfulness, He does take care of us, and more. In the "and more," we have more ... to give more. In giving more, He gets more - attention, glory, & honor (which is worth so much more to Him than our money!)
God's faithfulness never runs out - I dare you to test Him on it!