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The wisdom of the tithe

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Read Malachi 3:8-12

I was shocked at a statistic that I heard a couple weeks ago. Only 4% of Christians actually tithe.

I knew that some didn’t. I know that some use the freedom that we enjoy in Christ as a reason not to tithe, but truly, I thought at least 25% of Christians tithed.

Only 4% seems pitiful. And it’s not that the other 96% are thriving and blessing the world in other ways. Many are outright struggling to make ends meet or have ventured into considerable debt.

Tithing is not a salvation issue. In the current age, it is an abundant life issue.

Jesus doesn’t want 10%. He wants all of us and all that we manage for him. We are to follow Jesus. He is Lord. That means that all that we have—or more accurately, that we manage for him—is to be at his disposal.

Oh by the way, he does reward good mangers.

Why do we even care about the tithe today?

The tithe is full of challenge and promise. Nowhere else in the Bible can I find, “Test me in this.” I can find words that say don’t put God to the test, but only this unique passage where God says, “C’mon. I dare you to try to out give me.”

When we read this passage, we often only focus on one, sometimes two of its elements. Many go right to the blessings. We trust God with the first 10% of all that we receive and he blesses us as only he can.

This is trust. The tithe comes first, similar to a first fruits offering. We make our tithe to God “off the top,” and yes that means before taxes. God will have no others before him or beside him and that includes the unsavory god who most of the time exacts his demands via a 1040 or 1040A or some withholding ritual.

God doesn’t take second place—ever.

Yes, we render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but placing Caesar before God is a dog that don’t hunt.

Most of us think of God blessing us in response to our trust that 90% will go as far as 100%. It doesn’t. It goes farther.

We often overlook what follows in this passage.

I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.

In an agrarian society, this was clearly understood. What good is a crop that gets eaten by insects before you can harvest it?

What good is an orchard or vineyard if all the fruit falls on the ground and rots or is consumed before the harvest?

Well, I work for a paycheck and don’t have any crops. I am on a fixed government income and don’t even have enough to plant a garden, how does this apply to me?

Consider your income. Consider what actually comes into your hands or account every month. How quickly is it gone? It seems like the world just devours it. It is consumed.

For those who tithe, that is not the case. God protects what we have. It is not consumed.

That doesn’t mean that we can ignore God’s wisdom and spend like a fool. That person will be broke. Actually in today’s world, he will be in debt. He has sold himself into slavery.

But for the one who tithes and abides in God’s wisdom, that person has enough to meet his needs and something left over that we might call abundance. From this abundance we can bless others, even the world.

For what we have will not be devoured as it is with those who trust the world over God. Many of these people trusting their own understanding over trusting God are Christians. They sing Trust and Obey on Sunday but hum except with my money through the rest of the week.

How hard is it to sing I Have Decided to Follow Jesus while hiding your debit card from him?

The promise is that the floodgates of heaven will be opened and what we receive will not be so easily consumed.

But there is more. It is a part that is totally ignored time and time again.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.

This statement precedes all that we have examined so far. Consider the words, that there may be food in my house.

Were God’s Chosen People supposed to be the people that blessed the world? Are we who have responded to the grace that we know in Christ Jesus called to do this in our age?

Imagine what would happen if every Christian tithed. God’s storehouse would be full. Government programs and policies would be irrelevant. God’s people would be taking care of the widows, orphans, disabled, broken families, and those who just cannot find their way.

Government itself would be far less relevant than it has become in our time.

The storehouse would be full and continue to be filled daily. What a blessed state or nation we would live in if every Christian actually tithed, which by the way is exactly how this pericope ends.

Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty.

This was written to the children of Israel but it is so true today and there are those who follow Jesus who can testify to the fulfilled promises of the tithe. The problem is that with so few tithing and enjoying the personal and family benefits of the tithe, our nation suffers.

Our people suffer.

Those that we are discipled to help also suffer.

The blessings of our country seem to be waning.

Christians look more and more to the government instead of looking to God.

The current state of affairs in our families and our nation might just make a dramatic turnaround if every Christian committed to the tithe in the year to come.

Trust God and receive his blessings and watch them go farther than you would have dreamed.

Witness what it is to live in a delightful land that is blessed by the Lord.

It all begins with trust.

Are you ready to really trust God?

Are you ready to tithe?

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