Ann Landers once responded to a letter from a girl who was writing about her uncle. The girl told the story: “My uncle was the
tightest man I’ve ever known. All his life, every time he got paid he
took $20 out of his paycheck and put it under his mattress. Then he got
sick and was about to die. As he was dying, he said to his wife, ‘I
want you to promise me one thing.’ ‘Promise what?’ she asked. ‘I want
you to promise me that when I’m dead you’ll take my money from under
the mattress and put it in my casket so that I can take it all with
The girl’s letter went on with the story. “He died, and his wife
kept her promise. She went in and got all that money the day he died
and went to the bank and deposited it, and wrote out a check and put it
in his casket.”
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)
Stewardship, the way we handle God’s gifts (time, talents, and treasures) is very important. Scripture says, Honor the Lord with the firstfruits of your harvest (Proverbs 3.9).
When people become members of the United Methodist Church, we ask them,
“As members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in
its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your
Today, we’re going to look at one way we honor God with our
financial resources — tithing. One bumper sticker put it this way:
“Tithe if you love Jesus. Any idiot can honk.”
Questions to think about …
- What are you doing with your money?
- Are you tithing?
- How much are you giving?
- Do you recognize your money as a gift from God?
Practice of Tithing
God’s people take 10% of whatever
increase they experienced and they’d bring it to their worship place as
a symbol of their gratefulness to God for his giving them material
blessings. Secondary purpose: a means of supporting the ministry of
their place of worship.
Malachi comes from a time after many people of
Judah had returned from Babylonia, but just before Ezra and Nehemiah
returned. The temple had been rebuilt, and the priests were again
offering the people’s sacrifices to the Lord. But times were hard, and
the people had lost most of their hope for a bright new future in
Judah. The people and the priests were no longer showing the proper
respect for the Lord or for his temple. They were also making wrong
sacrifices and disobeying God’s laws. Malachi challenged the people and
especially the priests to be faithful to the agreement the Lord made
with Israel. They were to honor the Lord by offering the right kind of
sacrifices and by giving ten percent of their harvest to him. Then the
Lord would bless them.
Descendants of Jacob, I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I never
change. That’s why you haven’t been wiped out, even though you have
ignored and disobeyed my laws ever since the time of your ancestors.
But if you return to me, I will return to you. And yet you ask, "How
can we return?" (Malachi 3.6-7)
Robbing God > Curse
You people are robbing me, your
God. And, here you are, asking, "How are we robbing you?" You are
robbing me of the offerings and of the ten percent that belongs to me.
That’s why your whole nation is under a curse. (Malachi 3.8-9)
I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I challenge you
to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the
storehouse, so there will be food in my house. (Malachi 3.10a) (See also Leviticus 27.30)
Jesus says something interesting about tithing: How terrible it
will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees.
Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your
income, but you ignore the important things of the law—justice, mercy,
and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things. (Matthew 23.23) (See also 1 Corinthians 16.2)
Then I will open the windows of heaven
and flood you with blessing after blessing. I will also stop locusts
from destroying your crops and keeping your vineyards from producing.
Everyone of every nation will talk about how I have blessed you and
about your wonderful land. I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken! (Malachi 3.10b-12)
I recently asked some friends for
"tithing testimonies," stories of God honoring them in their attempt to
honor God. Here are a couple of their responses.
“I am not getting paid much from our church, but we have continued
to tithe. God has kept us afloat every month, even when we didn’t know
how it was going to happen. We just got a check for $400 from a church
that is still like family to us that I was a youth pastor for when I
first got into the ministry. Why do I think that happened? Because we
have been faithful in our giving, and God has rewarded us for it.” (Art)
“In college, I got engaged just before my junior year began. I had a
good part time job and my future wife and I thought we had enough money
so we bought a car together (payment was $95/month). I did not tithe.
One day I went to work and, boom, I was laid off. So there I was with a
car payment, getting married in four months and no income at all.
Fortunately, my future wife could swing the car payment, but we had no
extra money to put together our apartment. I looked and looked for a
job, all to no avail. One day I looked in my checkbook and found that I
had left an amount that would be equal to what I had not tithed. I mean
to the penny. So, I wrote a check to the church in PA where Dad was
pastor, put it into an envelop and mailed it. The only person I told
was my future wife. She did not tell me not to do it. Within two hours,
I had received calls about two jobs that would last for a couple of
weeks. The following Monday, I received calls about two more part time
jobs, one in the morning before class, one in the evening after
classes. I was hired for both jobs and worked them through my senior
year in college. One was even full time in the summer and had the added
benefit of allowing me time to study on the job. Funny how that worked
out. I mean the check was still in the post office and I was getting
what I needed. I won’t ever forget that.” (John)
I’m amazed at how much the Bible says about money and possessions. In
fact, more is said in the New Testament about money than heaven and
hell combined. And there’s five times more said about money than
prayer. How we handle God’s gifts (money and possessions) is obviously
“There is no portion of money that is our money and the rest God’s.
It is all his; he made it, gives it all, and he has simply trusted it
to us for his service.” (Adolphe Monod)
“Tithing isn’t fundamentally about money. It’s about the condition of your heart.” (Bill Hybels)
That’s certainly what Jesus seems to say: "Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be" (Luke 12.34). He also says, "No
one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or
be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and
money" (Matthew 6.24)
I love what God says through Malachi at the beginning of this passage: “If you return to me, I will return to you …” (Malachi 3.7). No matter how you’ve handled your money up until today, you can have a fresh start today, by returnging to God, and committing to honor him in all things, including the handling of your money.
Motives/Attitude: Give cheerfully …
farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one
who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up
your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or
in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. (2 Corinthians 9.6-7)
God always honors those who honor him!
I love what the master said to the guys who handled the master’s money well (in a story Jesus once told): “Well
done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling
this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.
Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25.21)
That’s what I want to hear Jesus say to me someday!