This blog concludes our time in Malachi; the last book of the Old Testament, a book where Abba is trying to get the attention of His people in regards to false teachings about Him, rampant unfaithfulness to His divine institution of marriage and finally a call to repentance in the area of giving.
Malachi 3~A Call to Repentance
“I am the Lord, and I do not change. ….Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’
“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!
“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’
“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
First let’s clarify “tithing." Nowhere in the New Testament is tithing mentioned, tithing in the Old Testament was an income tax for theocratic Israel. The New Testament never suggests that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system.
Abba does teach us four important principles regarding giving in the New Testament: 1) Give often 2) Give cheerfully 3) Give generously 4) Give sacrificially
1) Give often, did you know Paul tells us in Corinthians to give each Sunday as we have been prospered?
1 Corinthians 16 Contemporary English Version (CEV) When you collect money for God’s people, I want you to do exactly what I told the churches in Galatia to do. That is, each Sunday each of you must put aside part of what you have earned.
2) Give cheerfully; we would have nothing to give if Jesus had not given first to us, and we demonstrate our appreciation to Abba when we give with a good attitude.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT) You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Notice, once again there is no specific amount mentioned (like 10%) because the amount given is based on the condition of our hearts, not the condition of our bank accounts.
3) Give generously; you can not out give God. Everything you have is His and the more you give, the more you want to give. He challenges us to test Him in this area in the above passage from Malachi 3(the only place in the bible where God challenges us to test Him) and from 2 Corinthians 9:6.
2 Corinthians 9:6 (AMP) Remember this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously that blessings may come to someone will also reap generously and with blessings.
Shockingly, I have talked to many Christians who never give to orphans and widows and give little to their church. When the bible refers to the rich it is us! The average individual income in the world is $2.50 a day. Billions of people cannot image turning a lever and having a hot shower or being able to brush their teeth with tooth paste or walk in a beautiful market full of food. To whom much is given, much is expected.
4) Give sacrificially; the act of giving requires faith and should mean something to us.
I think this one is the most challenging act of giving. What does my giving need to cost me? When does it become sacrificial? Giving is personal and is between you and God, which is why there is no set number on how much each one of us should give. Abba will bring opportunities to each one of us, and we must choose whether we will answer the call and give or not.
2 Corinthians 8 New Living Translation (NLT)Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.
The Philippian church was in Macedonia, and they were not a wealthy group of people, but they gave generously, cheerfully, often and sacrificially to advance the Kingdom.
Again notice there is no specific number given to give; we are told to give from our heart. Our giving is not a matter of how much money we have; rather it is a matter of the condition of our heart. The story of the widow’s two mites beautifully illustrates this concept. She had just a bit to give, but it was plenty in the Lord’s eye because she gave from her heart, and she gave all she could give; it meant something to her.
Do you believe Luke 6:38~Give to others, and you will receive? You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands—more than you can hold. You will be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.”