I’m sure that when someone who is not familiar with church comes through the doors on a Sunday morning they are perplexed when it is time for the “tithes and offerings” portion of worship. Some probably assume that the church is a greedy oppressor that guilts people into giving their hard-earned money to them, while others might think it is unbecoming to “beg” for money. The Lord is not reserved in telling us what He requires of us, nor does He stand for any kind of oppression of His people. Read James. The life we are called to live as children of God is one that needs guidance. Read Malachi 3:5. Those who defraud the ones toiling in labor and oppress the widows and fatherless—they are the ones who will be judged first when Christ comes again. So if neither of these ideas are the intentions of the Lord, then why does He ask us to give our tithes? Why does He give us the opportunity to present Him with gifts?
In Malachi 3:10, the Lord says exactly what He plans to do with these small offerings...do you see it? He wants to “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10, NIV). No need to paraphrase that, folks. God promised that, if the people were faithful in giving, God would meet their needs by ending the drought that had caused such economic despair.
This is not the prosperity gospel, which says that if you give to God, He will give you all of your heart’s earthly desires; rather, this is the Word of the Lord! Give Him “the whole tithe” and He will do more with it than we could ever imagine. We are called to give Him all of ourselves, and He will turn the little we have to offer into something so remarkable that we will not be able to keep it to ourselves, providing us with what He knows we need. We do not give so we can be blessed; we give so His kingdom may be blessed, in turn bringing us joy unexplainable and uncontainable.
Malachi 2:17-3:18 (ESV):
The Messenger of the LORD
17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.
6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.
13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”
The Book of Remembrance
16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.