Why am I…my church…my state…my country going through financial hardship? You can bet one of the prime governing factors of receiving blessing or cursing will take place based on obedience or disobedience to the word of God.
How quaint, how old fashioned, and how can that possibly pertain to the 21st century, because after all we are Americans?
God’s requirement, not suggestion, for giving proper priority was greatly understood by our earlier inventors, lawmakers, and business people of the past. People should be aware of the great giving founders of Colgate, Proctor and Gamble, or General Mills. It did not all happen by accident or blind luck.
One important key is found in Deuteronomy 8:18:
But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”
This is the significant reason God uses chosen vessels. It is not for man’s personal glory, but a divine purpose…to establish God’s covenant promises. The spiritual principle of “many are called but few are chosen” applies to those with a special ability to prosper mightily. The failure to understand that all the wealth on Earth belongs to God anyway establishes a very important premise….people are merely custodians of God’s resources.
The guidelines are quite simple, one is to bring at least a tenth of the money made into God’s storehouse so His church, synagogue, or mosque can do the work of providing for the needy and supporting those going out into the ministry. That is how God’s economy for mankind is suppose to work. No need for bingo, chicken dinners, raffles for this or that, or other fund raising gimmicks if everyone does what they are commanded to do.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tithe
Unfortunately this is not the case. Usually the Pareto rule is in effect where 80% of the resources are given by 20% of the people, meaning there are 80% of the congregation not doing what they are instructed to do in Malachi 3: 8-11:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me. But you ask, How do we rob You? In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse, the whole nation of you, because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse , that there may be food in My house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pest from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit.”
Tithing is something God knew people would have problem obeying, and for emphasis in Malachi 3:6 God prefaces His statement about robbing tithes and offerings by saying, “For I am the Lord, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed”.
Tithing is a test to determine if one is in financial idolatry or not. Offerings are given above the tithe and is optional, however the law of sowing and reaping is supercharged when one gives above the required tithe. There is a reason General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, and Colgate had smashing financial success, and it was not because they had dynamic products or a slick Madison Avenue marketing scheme.
People find creative ways not to obey and it has been all tried before. After the children of Israel were released from their bondage in Babylon, the Israelites became busy with their lives and doing their own thing. The Temple remained untouched and in disrepair for years. Of course there is always more important things to do.
Through the prophet Haggai 1: 1-11, God warned that there was reason there was hardship hanging over the people, and that was the fact they were dishonoring God by leaving His house in ruin. There were consequences for not putting proper priority, and it reflected in tough economic times.
In Malachi the rascal priests were bringing sick, lame, and deformed animals in for offering and keeping the prime animals for themselves. God chided them to bring the same animals to the governor for gifts and see what would happen. Holding back God’s proper offering for yourself and giving God the scraps or leftovers insults God’s integrity.
Malachi 1: 11-13 has the priest bringing in spoiled food and placing it on the altar as a sacrifice, then sniffing and saying things as "what stinks"? It was a contemptible practice where God rejected the offering.
Giving the fat of the increase to one’s children and gleanings to God shows great disrespect for God’s authority. This concept of not giving God proper place is condemned in Malachi 1:14 which states,
“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”. Holding back the first fruits while giving the corner leftovers as an offering covers much negative territory.
The Bible has a saying “to whom much is given, much is required” and it carries a separate burden to those that have been given much. God dispenses an equalizing justice if one fails to follow tithing or the requirements for giving. There is a good reason why some people have too much month left when their money runs out.
Not paying tithes will allow the devourer to come in. God has many ways to collect His tithes which manifest itself in a plethora of financial setbacks by a variety of methods.
God is like the guy in the old Fram oil commercial who said, “You can pay me now, or pay me later”…..and we know it is much more expensive later.