Will A Man Rob God?

8 “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.
9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.
10 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!
11 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.

INTRODUCTION

I was raised on the King James which states the Jews sin a little differently…“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.”

So the question is: will a man rob God? And the answer is yes, he will: as a matter of fact over 80% of Baptist do it weekly. Jack Taylor was fond of saying, “I would pray with a man who robs God. I wouldn’t close my eyes in his presence: a man who will rob God, will rob anyone.” I think Jack was using the hyperbole but his point is well taken. Something is not right when a man robs God.

I suppose the second question is: how can a man rob God? Malachi gives us the answer, by withholding our tithes and offerings. The Levitical or Temple Ministry was supported by tithes and offerings. Today the ministry of the church, the body of Christ, is supported by tithes and offerings. Why do people feel entitled to a free ride? I don’t get it. Joe Wheeler does not give us electricity and they don’t take faith as payment for their services either. Ministry is expensive and it cannot be done without financial support.

The third question is WHY? Why don’t professing believers tithe?

Today, I am going to suggest four reasons or excuses why many church members do not tithe…

I. GOD HAS NO NEEDS. 

The gold is His, the silver is His, the cattle on a thousand hills are his. The earth is the LORD’s and everything on it. God has infinite wealth. His resources cannot be exhausted. All of this is true. God is not in a financial bind. He does not need a bail out. Many people reason to themselves: God doesn’t need my money.

I had to borrow money from an individual to go to school and when I went to pay him back, he opened his ledger and I saw another name, someone is my family, who owed him money and had made no effort to pay him back. This man was a relative and he did not charge us interest. But this particular person had made no attempt to pay the principal. I confronted him and he didn’t like it but I pressed for an answer: “Why are you not paying this debt?” I will never forget what he said, “He has ten times as much money as I have, he doesn’t need the money.” I think my response was, “That has nothing to do with it.” I guarantee you when he asked for the loan, he did not tell the man, “You are rich and I have no intention of paying you back.” Had he been honest, the man would not have loaned him the money and neither would I.

A debt is a debt is a debt. By the way, poor people don’t loan money. Only rich people loan money. If you owe someone, their financial status has nothing to do with your moral obligation to pay the debt.

NO, God does not need your money but that has nothing to do with your obligation.


II. MISTRUST FOR THE MINISTRY

The second excuse that I know is real has to do with people mistrust of preachers. They assume incorrectly that a preacher who preaches on stewardship [the use of material wealth] is greedy and working toward a raise. Be honest: How many Baptist churches do you know where the preacher sets the budget and determines his own salary.

I’ll go one step further, if you have a preacher and he never preaches on giving, he is probably not giving himself. We need to be thankful that your pastor tells you the truth. My grandmother on the Bailey side was horrible about judging preachers on this issue. She told me more than once, “There is plenty in the bible for you to preach without you begging for money.” First of all, I have never begged and secondly, I can’t allow my grandmother or anyone else to tell me what and what not to preach.

I knew a man some 35 years ago who claimed to be a deacon but believed like my grandmother. He rode a Greyhound to Arkansas to see a doctor and he sat beside a retired Baptist preacher. He was so proud to tell me, a young preacher at the time that this older preacher made a comment that “he had never preached on tithing, too much other there to get on money.” He wanted to know what I thought, I was a young man but I gave him the proper answer: I said, “I think you sat beside a preacher who never tithed.” I know several preachers who never mention tithing. They also borrow money and don’t pay it back. A bad steward is a bad steward, doesn’t matter if he is a preacher.

I am telling you the truth as I understand it about TITHING and it has nothing today with a salary. There will be no financial profit by what I am doing. I have never preached on giving and gotten a raise because of it.

III. I GIVE OTHER THINGS LIKE MY TALENT AND TIME

The next time you get a bill from Joe Wheeler, throw it in the trash and take them your talent. What a crock! I know this excuse is alive and well because I have family members that give this excuse. Your talent is God’s. It is a gift from Him; you have control of it but it’s on loan and so it your time. God wants more than your time and talent: actually, He wants more than your money. He wants you to trust Him for every need and He wants you to obey His word.

IV. TITHING IS OT/LAW: JESUS FREED US FROM ITS MORAL OBLIGATION

Tithing was practiced in the OT but not as a part of the LAW. The Patriarchs Abraham and Jacob tithed over 400 years before the law was given. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple…” is an imperative command. Those who claim that GRACE has set them free from the law of tithing are full of mush. Jesus taught us in the sermon on the mount that GRACE goes beyond the law. In other words, those who truly believe in GRACE give more than a tithe. Grace or love goes for beyond the expected. Try treating your wife the way you treat God in the matter of giving.

A man who is living with his wife as a moral obligation may give what is expected but a man who is head over hills in love with his wife will give her much more than expected. Do you get my drift?

V. I CAN’T AFFORD TO TITHE

Mrs. Lillie Mae Thompson of Cherokee, Alabama would say, “You can’t afford not to tithe.” She said, “If you are a child of God, you owe it and you better pay it or else he will get it another way.” I heard her say once, “If you don’t give it to the church, the doctor or the auto mechanic will get it.”

I can assure you, tithing is not a financial problem, it is a spiritual problem. Yes there are people who budget and the tithe is not in the budget but that’s because they have bought things they didn’t need. If I had a new boat, a new camper, a new tractor, UTV and took eight vacations a year, I would be able to tithe either. People spend selfishly on themselves, get over extended and then claim they cannot afford to give. Truth is, they are doing too much frivolous spending.

I have told you about the old boy who began making $300 per week and tithing $30. He kept getting promoted until he was making $3000 per week and his tithe was $300. The greed bug bit him and he went to his preacher and said, “Preacher, $300 is a lot of money to be giving to the church, I don’t think I can continue to tithe that amount. I don’t know what to do, would you please pray for me?” “Yes, be glad to said his pastor.” They got on their knees and the preacher began…”Lord, Jim had no problem tithing when he made $300 per week so I pray you will give him his old job back so he makes only $300….” Jim interrupted him, “That’s OK preacher, strike that prayer, I will give the $300.”

Robby Gallaty tells of a man in the church where he served who volunteered to do sheet rock work because he could not afford to tithe. He confessed this to the pastor who seized the day. “Since you have confessed to me that you do not tithe, do you mind if I share one passage of scripture with you?” The man agreed and Pastor Robby shared Malachi 3:10 which is a unique verse.

It is the only verse in the bible where God puts us to the dare. 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!

God is saying, “Try Me, put Me to the test…I dare you.” See if I will not open up the windows of heaven and bless you, overwhelm you with blessing. Give you more blessings than you know what to do with!

The Pastor said to the man: “You don’t have a financial problem, you have a faith problem. You don’t believe God will do what He says He will do. You do not believe in your heart that God will flood you with blessing if you tithe do you? The man looked at his pastor and said, “You are right preacher, I have a faith problem.”

By the way, the word ‘rob’ translated ‘cheat’ in the NLT is used on three times in the O.T. and twice in this passage, verses 8,9. The other is Proverbs 22:23 where Solomon said, “Do not rob the poor or God will rob you.” The Hebrew word for rob or cheat is ‘aqob’ and its original meaning was to cover. Thus the word came to mean defraud: cheating others by deception. The word is so close to the OT name Jacob who was a cheater. Jacob deceived his father by covering up the truth. Some would say he out smarted his brother Esau but this is inaccurate, he cheated his brother. Some have even translated this verse, “Will a man jacob God?”

My challenge to you today is not to tithe, my challenge is for you to come clean, be honest, tell the truth. Stop covering the truth with your lame excuses. Call it what it is: ROBBING/CHEATING GOD. [Sounds bad, “cheating God,” because it is bad]

TITHING

  1. Practiced by the Patriarchs [Abraham and Jacob]
  2. Instituted as a means of provision for Levite and Temple ministry.
  3. Endorsed by Jesus
  4. Standard method of providing for the maintainance and ministry of the church.
  5. In the context of scripture, especially Malachi 3:10– it is a moral imperative.

BUT

Don’t tithe unless…

  1. You do it–As an act of obedience

  2. You do it–As a gesture of faith

  3. You do it–As an expression of love

The Money is not the main thing: your heart being right with God is the main thing.

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From The Inside Out

Scripture: Luke 11:37-44, NLT

37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table.
38 His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!
40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?
41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces.
44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

Introduction

The Pharisees were very devoted people. When it came to externals like tithing, giving alms, attending synagogue, practicing the traditional rituals like hand washing they were front and center and were admired by most people. There is a sharp contrast between a Pharisee and a Sadducee and not just in doctrine. The Sadducees were the upper class filthy rich Jews who were nominal believers in Yahweh. They accepted only the first five books of the bible [Torah] and they interpreted them in light of priestly tradition. The Pharisees accepted the law and the prophets and interpreted the law through Moses. During the time of the incarnation, Josephus estimated the total Pharisee population before the fall of the Temple to be around 6,000. The Pharisees were the middle class. The Sadducees were the elite ruling class and they were not so concerned with public opinion as were the Pharisees.
We know there were some good Pharisees: Paul, Nicodemus, Joseph and Gamaliel but you cannot find a good Sadducee: they were evil and corrupt. Where the Sadducees were invested heavily in politics, the Pharisees were focused on Judaism or religion. Somewhere along the way, the Pharisee’s lost their original focus and evolved into a very sectarian and legalistic group who had very little to no compassion on those they deemed beneath them.
To set tonight story: Jesus is invited into the home of a Pharisee and Jesus did not wash His hands before He ate {ceremonial hand washing}. The Pharisees were on that like ugly on an ape. I don’t know if anything was said, but Jesus knew their thoughts and He unloads of these religious frauds…“You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!  Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?  So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
He pronounces three “woes” on the Pharisees and each is an indictment on a an inverted religious faith.

I. THE FIRST IS IN VERSE 42–WOE TO THOSE WHO MAJOR ON MINORS

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
There are things, good things and then there are more important things. Some things are more important than others, would you not agree?  Our LCBS lesson dealt with this today. Life is about choosing between what matters most and what is optional. Some things have major significance and some minor. We would be wise to know which is which. The Pharisee’s were into the external things: rituals, ceremonies, alms, customs, traditions. They were obsessed with these things. The goal of Judaism should have been inward purity but the Pharisee’s neglected the inward and the spiritual. Jesus said they were fools full of greed and evil. Their religion wasn’t working: instead of becoming better, they were becoming more depraved by the day. Washing our hands in front of a group does nothing about the problem of the heart.
There is nothing wrong with tithing or doing alms but there are more important things such as loving God and treating your fellowman with kindness. The Pharisees were hung up on the externals, especially things you touch. You couldn’t touch anything related to death, a tomb or a corpse. They would not touch certain foods. They refused to touch certain people, those who were ritually unclean. They would not eat until they had washed their hands. They were more concerned about germs on the finger than sin in the heart. They were obsessed with performance not purity. They had it backward. They needed to be worrying about their hearts not their hands.

II. SECOND WOE, VERSE 43–WOE TO THOSE WHO LIVE FOR MAN’S APPROVAL WHO PUT REPUTATION BEFORE CHARACTER

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces.
We live to please others when possible, but when there is a conflict between pleasing God and others, we must please God. When Peter and John were forbidden to speak any more in Jesus name, they said, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him?  We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
How much have things changed since Jesus ate with this Pharisee? Not much, we are still performers just like the Pharisees. We crave recognition just like they did and we love the point system because it makes us feel entitled, like we deserved this or that. Every denomination out there has an advantage over Baptist because we don’t have a point system. You can’t earn salvation, you cannot merit God’s forgiveness. The only way for you to relate to God is by grace or to each other. The only thing we deserves is death and hell. This kind of rhetoric does not play well in this world where everyone admires an achiever. 
The Pharisees had a point system and the person with the most points sat in the set of honor and from that point, they were ranked. This is contrary to everything Jesus taught. Matter of fact, He said, “Many that are first will be last.” At some point, we have to stop caring what others think and begin to focus on what God thinks. When we get to craving recognition and honor each other’s achievement, we becomes slaves to a point system that invariably produces pride. Pride leads to arrogance and contempt for others.

III. THIRD WOE V.44–WOE TO THOSE WHO ARE SELF-DECEIVED

Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
Jesus told the Pharisees, You are like unmarked graves, you defile people without them or you realizing what you have done.” Jesus said, “You are like dead men’s graves.” You are the source of defilement. You defile others. Ironic, that the Pharisees avoided others who they deemed unclean and yet they were defiling others without even knowing what was going on. The Pharisees who prided themselves on doing good where actually doing harm by their bad example. The sad thing is: they were totally unaware of their guilt.
Jesus was hard on the Pharisees because they refused to acknowledge their sin. The sins of others grieved them but not their own sins. One sure way to know if you are a child of God is your attitude toward sin. If your sin does not grieve, bother or burden you, something is wrong.
This morning LIFE CHANGING BIBLE STUDY had a couple of brilliant illustrations. One was about the inverted funnel and the other about sand castles. How many of you have spent hours constructing a sand castle only to have one wave destroy it and it you went to the same spot the next day, you would find no evidence that a sand castle ever existed.
The Pharisees spent their entire life building sand castles. Surely, you do not want to waste your life on trivial pursuits.