© 2008 by Deidre Campbell-Jones
Message Topic: Pay
Get robbed: Malachi 3:8
Get paid: Malachi 3:11
Lately the subject of “tithes” has been heavy in my study, my teaching at church and my Bishop’s teaching as well. It seems that this economy is dredging up some deeply heartfelt issues we Christians (and some non-Christians) have regarding tithing and it is exposing some ugly truths about the matter as well.
Now I cannot say this has only happened to me at my church, but it truly has happened to me at every church I have been to or even visited in which the sermon topic was “tithing” - and that's guilt. Usually when I hear a sermon on tithing I feel guilty as if I am guilty of doing something wrong – even though I have been a fairly consistent tither through the majority of my Christian walk.
It seems as if preachers and pastors sense there is a problem with the parishioners but their choice of resolution is to continue beating us over the head with Malachi 3:8. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:9 goes on to say “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation.”
Yes, the bible is plain – when we withhold our tithes and offerings we rob God. And when we rob God we are cursed with a curse – plain and simple. It is the ugly, guilt-ridden truth. And when I’ve been guilty, I have been guilty no doubt about it. But does calling a liar a liar stop him from lying? And if you call someone a liar who is telling the truth does that make them a liar after all? No – and that’s why Malachi 3:10 goes on with the promises so many of us are familiar with but still can’t seem to consistently get it together.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of host, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Now admittedly, even when I tithe regularly, there still seems to be times when this promise eludes me and I wonder if I’m doing something “wrong.” I have even (recently) felt so seriously that the enemy must have wormed his way into my checking account and stolen away my money that I closed down the account altogether.
That was when God began to dispel some myths and some curses for me as well. I want to do the same for you, but it comes with a warning: (in the alleged words of Maya Angelou) “When you know better, you do better.” And when you know better you are accountable for what you know. God has indeed blessed me through my tithes when I didn’t have a clue that I was robbing Him and thought I was a faithful and cheerful tither, but once I was convicted of a deeper understanding I was held responsible for the actions associated with that deeper understanding. So, if you want a deeper understanding of tithes, keep reading. But if you stop here – that doesn’t necessarily mean you can keep on keeping on and keep thinking you’ll be blessed!
We’ll start with “bring ye all the tithes.” Many, many teachers and preachers teach that a “tithe” is 1 (one) tenth of your income or increase. Actually tithe is the FIRST tenth of your increase. Go back to Malachi 3:4 “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” In “former years,” and even when Abraham paid tithes of all he had to the High Priest Malchezidek in recognition of the Covenant Promise given to him and all his seed (us), a tithe was the “Firstfruit.”
God made all first things holy: First born sons, first born lambs, the first of all harvest and the first of all increase. And if the part is holy, the whole lump is holy. Our first fruit is a holy, devoted and consecrated thing. It is set apart by God as being His and being Holy unto Him. That first tenth sanctifies the rest and makes the rest Holy – or redeems that which it has been redeemed unto. Did I lose you?
Ok, when you get your check you either deposit it or have it direct deposited into your account. And, usually when you get cash it goes into your wallet for spending. Some of us take that cash and put aside our tithes right away. I would calculate my tenth in my mind and “designate” that amount to give in church but I wouldn’t necessarily set it aside physically.
Here’s what happens: when it comes time to pay the bills there are two kinds of tithers. One will pay all the bills and pay tithe on the balance. The other will calculate the tithe amount and pay all the bills with the rest. Then when Sunday comes they write a check to the church for their designated tithe amount. (That was me.)
All of us are robbing God when we pay our tithes like this. Because, if we pay AT&T first, or the housekeeper or DWP or bought groceries, we have just consecrated the first fruits of our increase to the phone, Merry Maids, the electricity or Albertson’s. And unfortunately because none of those entities died for our sins, our money which is no longer redeemed towards our Covenant Promise, cannot unlock the promises of God in our lives. Now are you with me? I hope so, but I’m going to take it one step further, so hang in there…
Jesus died for our sins, right? And we believe in Him by faith, right? Through that faith we are the seed of Abraham - Galatians 3:7: Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And Abraham and all his seed was given the Covenant Promise. Now then, Jesus is the lamb of God, right? He is The First Fruit – the Lamb with out blemish that died to redeem us from our sins. When we consecrate our first fruits unto God, it redeems the rest just as Christ redeemed us. When we pay our tithes into the storehouse of God that there might be meat in His house, it redeems the rest of our money that there might be meat in our house. Are you back with me now? Great, then we’re moving on…
Now let’s look up “will a man rob God.” I looked up the word “rob” in the bible concordance because all the preachers and deacons say “You are stealing from God!” But the bible defines stealing as thievery. It is to take in secret, to closet away and hide in private something that doesn’t belong to you.
Robbing, however, is defined as a mugging. It involves bodily harm and is includes the concept of being “held up.” We are holding up God, tying up His hands and locking up His ability to open up the windows of heaven and release our blessings when we do not tithe or tithe accurately. And the only individuals we are stealing from is ourselves.
The California state lottery has a saying: “You’ve got to be in it to win it.” Well, regarding the promises of God, I say: you’ve got to pay, to play! Pay your tithes, yes! But set aside the first of what you make – consecrate it as holy and the rest will be made holy. I challenge you to create a new system in which you pay your tithes first no matter how or when you get paid.
God put it best this way when He said, “prove Me” or test Me. He is telling us to challenge Him according to His promises. And if we do, He goes on to promise that the curse we are cursed with will be removed when He – God himself – will rebuke the devourer (Malachi 3:11).
Oh, yes, there it is – I was right about my bank account all along! When we tithe “as in the days of old,” it is so pleasing to the Lord that He will rebuke the enemy so that he (the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy) “will not destroy the fruits of our ground; neither shall our vine cast her fruit before their time and all nations shall call us blessed.”
The enemy ain’t playin’ but I am! I will pay to play with all my tithes and offerings!