I stand before you as a shepherd responsible to God for the care of those sheep who call Berean Baptist Church their church. Those who regularly participate in corporate worship and sit under the preaching of God’s Word are sheep who need a shepherd—a pastor. The shepherd has numerous responsibilities, but certainly one of the primary jobs of the shepherd—the pastor—is to protect the sheep from anything that would harm them.
So then let me ask you: do you want a shepherd who warns you of danger? Do you want a shepherd who seeks to protect you from harm’s way? But what if the warning will cause you to have to move? What if the warning will cause you to have to labor or change? Do you still want the warning? What if the shepherd knows about a potential curse and does not warn his sheep? What would you think of such a shepherd?
What if the shepherd—the pastor—knew of a devourer lurking about seeking to destroy the pasture where the sheep graze or poison the water that the sheep drink from, and he did nothing to warn them? What would you think of such a shepherd?
Today, I shall attempt to fulfill my responsibilities, but I must tell you something. Like sheep who cop an attitude when the shepherd pushes them on to protect them, you must, at this very moment, guard against a similar attitude. In just a moment, a potential attitude is about to occur; this will not be a Holy Spirit led attitude. This is an attitude of rebellion.
Satan, my biggest enemy at this very moment, will or is seeking to capture your very mind. He, as a roaring lion seeking to rob you of blessings from God Almighty, is present and ready for war.
He wants you to think of your spouse; he wants to get you distracted in any way he can; he wants to shut you down from the WORD OF GOD this very moment. The Bible says FAITH comes by hearing the WORD of GOD. Let me assure you beyond a doubt, you are going to need FAITH in the power of the gospel right now.
I am going to lead you to green pastures and still waters, but sadly, because of sin and a lack of faith, many of you will refuse to go with me to better grazing lands and clean, still, safe drinking water.
Turn in your Bibles to Malachi 3:6-11.
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
The title of this message is “God’s People are Still Robbing God in the 21st Century.” The definition of tithe is to pay or give a tenth part especially for the support of the church or to give a tenth of one’s income as a tithe. So when the Bible says tithe, this is precisely what it’s talking about. Before we get into verse number six let me tell you the beauty of God’s plan.
The Beauty of God’s Tithing Plan
1. What is 10% of nothing? Nothing. So if you are unemployed, you don’t have to feel guilty. I am not going to put you on a guilt trip if you are unemployed. If you are out of work right now, we understand that. There are some people who are out of work. We are living in an economic crisis right now, and if you are out of work, you don’t have to feel one bit guilty about not giving to the church. If your business isn’t doing so well, and you didn’t give as much as you gave last year, that is not a big deal. God knows how your business is doing. God knows what 10% is, and God will take care of you. Those of us that have received a consistent income without regard to the present economic crisis, please listen closely. Those of us that are still getting paid well in spite of the conditions, please listen to God’s Word because God’s Word is so awesome, and God’s plan is incredible. God made it such that when some people aren’t doing well, others make up for them. And when those that do well rebound, they make up for those who are not doing so well in another period of time. That is why God determined that it be 10% and not an arbitrary number. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that a percentage would work exceptionally well in funding His ministry.
On the Internet, there is a concerted effort made on numerous ‘religious’ websites to prove that Christians are exempt for various reasons from the requirement to tithe.
What do you suppose is behind this motivation? Do you think it is a pure heart? Do you think it is strictly a theological endeavor? I suspect not.
Here is a fact: I am often exactly opposite of what God is and what God would have me to be. And I think I am in good company. I stand before you a selfish man battling selfishness every single day. I don’t have it whipped. I am not inherently generous. I find a war going on within me. Let me tell you about this war: God says, “Give this much.” And then I go into a negotiating process with Him. It is an amazing thing. I don’t understand where that comes from other than my sin nature. But God will say to me, “Do this for so and so.” And at that given moment I will go into a negotiating process, “Oh, Lord, that much? Come on, God. You must be kidding. You don’t really mean that much. God, isn’t half enough? That’s still a lot of money, God. Isn’t that fine?” I cannot believe this war that rages within me. The good that I would do, I don’t do, and that which I would not do, I find myself often doing. And I confess to you: I am a wretched mess. I am inherently a selfish person, and if I did not have God’s goodness to look to, I would have no model of how to live. I find it incredibly interesting that this passage starts off with “I change not.” We are tricked into thinking that God understands that we are in an economic crisis. We are tricked into thinking that God’s Word only applies when life is going well. We are tricked into thinking that God understands Wall Street, and He adjusts His standards according to our economic mess. I am here to tell you that the Bible says, “I change not.” And do you know what? It is a good thing that God does not change. He makes His point right here. This is the correlating point:
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
I am exceptionally glad that God has locked Himself into the New Covenant because if He didn’t, I am afraid that He would consume me at any given moment. I am thinking that if we were not in a New Covenant relationship, that we would find ourselves where God would say, “I’ve had enough with your selfishness, Sean. You are done.” That is precisely what He is saying here. Let me tell you exactly what the word “consumed” means. When I consume a bowl of Breyer’s black raspberry ice cream with dark chocolate chips, there is nothing left. I will take the spoon and scrape the sides of the bowl. Some would say, “There is nothing in it,” yet I am still scraping. If God had not made a covenantal relationship with Abraham, Moses, and David, Israel would have been consumed. Do you know what that is saying to us? God was exasperated with the selfishness of His people. And He starts off right away with the idea that if He had not made a promise to Abraham and a covenant with David, and He had not committed Himself to bringing the Messiah into the world through the lineage of Israel, He would have at that very moment wiped them off the face of the planet. Now we can’t understand that. We really can’t, but that is what the Scripture is communicating. Make sure this theology is what you understand because this is biblical theology.
God’s essence and attributes never change, but His actions and attitudes toward me do change based on my actions toward Him. God is always love. That does not mean that God does not chastise His people. You love your children unconditionally, yet you still spank them. It is the very similar idea right here.
Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
He says in verse seven: “Return unto me, and I will return unto you,” but how would the people return? The answer is by giving. You see, all of us need to understand that God is a giver, and I am exceptionally thankful for that. How many of you are exceptionally thankful that God is a giver?
For God so loved the World that He gave…
So I find it amazing that within me there is this war going on in which I love the fact that God gave His only begotten Son, but when it comes to my wallet and what I am willing to give to others, I find that I want to be inherently selfish. You say, Pastor, are you just making all this up? No, I am being honest with you. I am confessing to you that I will often want to negotiate when God says, “Put this number in. Support this missionary. Give that gift away. Go buy that.” I find myself so often saying to God, “Surely you don’t mean that number. That’s not really what you mean.” There are two reasons for that: I am either being selfish or I am refusing to live by faith. That is it. It falls under one of those two categories. Please don’t tune me out.
I want to lead us as a church to green pastures and clean drinking water, but you must be obedient to go with me to that clean, green, grazing pasture. And the reality is that most Christians never get to that pasture.
Facts about Giving
• In the Bible, there are over 450 verses on faith and over 550 verses on prayer.
• But there are over 2,100 verses on giving.
• One of every 10 verses in the NT deals with giving money or possessions.
• 16 of the 38 parables Christ taught deal directly with giving money or possessions.
Do you know why these statements are true? Because where my heart is there is my treasure, Church (Matthew 6:21).
Matter of Fact
By nature, I am an inherently selfish person of little faith who needs the gospel to overcome my selfishness and lack of faith when it comes to giving. It is amazing how deceitfully wicked our heart is and how we can justify anything. We will justify our sin. God knows I am about to get laid off, so we can miss that 10%. We can justify anything. Let me ask you a question. Do you want to be a part of a church that has the resources to help you when you are in a bind? Don’t miss that. See, all of us go through rough points in our life. Don’t you want to be a part of an assembly that can help you when you are in those rough parts? Don’t you want to be a part of a place that has the resources to give when there is a need? You see, if God’s people are not challenged to give and taught to give, then you will join a church that is inherently selfish by nature and will not help you when you have a need. So visitors will say, I can’t believe they are talking about money in that church and yet those same visitors want all that money provides in a church. Do you understand what I mean by that? Stuff is not free. We don’t go down to Home Depot and they say “Oh, you’re a church, go ahead, help yourself.” It doesn’t work that way. Do you see? It comes from God’s people. We don’t invest in the stock market. It’s a good thing we didn’t. We don’t run bingo on Friday night. This church is funded by God’s people being obedient to God’s Word according to God’s plan. And the only reason it’s not happening to everyone is because we are inherently sinful and selfish and haven’t gotten over that. Let me tell you something: I didn’t always understand this. True confession: When we first got married, my wife was much more spiritual than I was. She grew up in a Baptist church, she had spent four years in Bible college, and she was a dream. No emails are necessary telling me how I should be thankful for my wife, because I am thankful. But listen, when she told me about tithing, I said, “Are you nuts? We are going to give that to the church? I mean I have been in some churches and every now and then I threw in a 20, and thought I was doing something good. But this idea of consistently giving10% right off the top to the local New Testament church blew me away. I called her dad about that. We had to have a conversation about it. What? Are you kidding? I’ll never see it back again? But I am here to tell you that I am exceptionally thankful that I listened to my wife because we have been amazingly blessed beyond what I have time to testify of. Many people could say the exact same thing. So now let’s look at verse number.
Malachi 3:8-9. Look at this dialogue that is going on.
[People:] Will a man rob God?
[God:] Yet ye have robbed me.
[People:] But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?
[God:] In tithes and offerings.
[God:] Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
This dialogue that goes back and forth should cause all of us to stand up and be alert to God’s Word. Do you think that God does not know how you are doing? Do you think that God is clueless as to what is on your W-2 Form? Do you think you can hide from God what your gross income is or what your LES says? You can hide it from your church. You can hide it from your spouse. You can hide it from each other. You can hide it from your mother. But you cannot hide it from God. God knows what your gross income was in 2008. And do you know what else God knows? He also knows what 10% of that was. He doesn’t even need a calculator. He knows what your tithe is. God Almighty looked down at Israel 2,000 years ago and said, you are robbing Me. You are robbing Me when you harvest. You are robbing Me when you bring it to the temple. You are robbing Me blind. And we think that in the year 2009, God will turn a blind eye to our sin. We have convinced ourselves that God understands that “I need a new car”. My heart is deceitfully wicked, and it is only a matter of time before I can talk myself out of being obedient.
So what is the expectation, Pastor Sean? It is the first fruit. It is the first ten percent of your gross income. Notice what He says here. Remember the introduction: here come the attitudes. They are coming right now. Why do the attitudes come? Why is this a concern for Satan? Why would you even say that? How could you surmise that Satan is concerned about what I give? If all of God’s people would be obedient, we could knock the doors down when it comes to missions. But when 50 or 60% of God’s people are robbing Him on a weekly basis, we struggle when we shouldn’t have to struggle. We really struggle. We would love to be able to say “Yes” to this missionary and the next missionary and the next missionary. But we can’t. Why? The reason is that God’s people are robbing Him, and they have convinced themselves that God understands. Let me tell you that there is never a time in the past, present or future when God understands sin. And that is why there is such a concerted effort on the Internet to convince Christians that not tithing is not sin. So they can justify their selfishness. I know this isn’t a popular message, but if you want to go with me to the green pasture where there is clean, still drinking water, you have to be obedient. The sheep either follow the shepherd or the sheep do not follow the shepherd. But the shepherd is leading the sheep to the green pastures where there is clean, still drinking water.
Now here is an interesting point: I am amazed at the number of Christians that justify their selfishness by the fact that they serve in the church. They give their service a numeric value, and subtract it from their tithe. Can I tell you something right now? If every Christian who served at Berean Baptist Church did that, we would not have a church right now. If every single Christian decided that they served and subtracted that from their tithe, you would walk in and there would be no electricity because we cannot take your Christian service to PWC. PWC wants seven thousand dollars a month from us, and Christian service does not cut it as far as they are concerned. They want cash. I can’t believe you are talking like this, Pastor. It is the reality, Church, and you that are not participating are robbing God. Are you putting us on a guilt trip, Pastor? I am not putting you on a guilt trip. I am preaching the Word of God. If the Holy Spirit convicts you, be obedient to the Holy Spirit.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,
One translation states it as: “full tithe.” Question: Why do I need to hear “all the tithe” or the “full tithe”? Wait a minute, Pastor. Don’t you know we are in an economic crisis right now? Haven’t you watched FOX News? That’s the problem. God’s people are listening to CNN and FOX News more than the Bible. And they have decided that FOX News takes precedence over God, and so they are robbing God. What is the repercussion of this Pastor? The repercussion of this is that churches are struggling at providing for the needs of members who are unemployed. We have a benevolence fund set up based on the percentage of your giving so that when someone has a need we can write them a check. We can get a light bill paid, take care of insurance, buy clothes when they are destroyed in a fire, and help you, but that help doesn’t come from heaven. It comes from God’s people being faithful. So tell me, when do you need God’s people to be faithful more? In an economic crisis or when the economy is doing well? No one wants to hear this, and quite frankly, I don’t want to preach it. No one is going to come to me and say “good sermon.” That is the reality. Because it is easy to talk about being faithful to church, but when you start talking about the wallet, no one wants to hear it because we can all justify our sin. I stand in line saying I am the chief one. God will say to me, “That person has a need. Go give them this amount of money,” and I am embarrassed to tell you that I don’t obey right away. I am embarrassed to tell you that sometimes I do not obey at all. I will tell myself that I already gave to the church, and I am good to go. That is not good to go. So let’s be real specific.
All of the Tithe
• Gross vs. Net
• Base Pay
• Housing Allowance
• Special Duty Pay
Ten percent is from the gross income. So when the soldier pulls out his statement, he doesn’t go over to the right, find the smallest number he can find, and give 10% of that. That is a cop out. He doesn’t forget about the allotments that are going to his 401K plan. He looks at this bottom line right here and gives 10% of that. This is not a hard thing. You give 10% of that. I don’t know how to figure 10%. Bring me your LES, and I will help you. It is fun. Sadly, most Christians do not want to go to the green pastures; most people want to find the grass on their own. The shepherd wants to lead us, but we have to follow the shepherd to the still waters. We cannot find it on our own. He has one plan, and it is giving to the local New Testament church.
An E5 SGT with 4 yrs in service would have a gross monthly income of $4,300 so his or her tithe would be $430 a month or $215 every pay period.
Someone says, I cannot believe that someone would consistently give $215 to a church every two weeks. If people do not do that, we will never be able to support the missionaries to the Dominican Republic. If people do not do that, we will never be able to have a Men’s Conference. If people do not do that, we won’t be able to have a worship leader. If people do not do that, we will not have chairs to sit on, air conditioning to enjoy, or carpet to walk on. A couple bucks every now and then does not cut it.
God’s plan is 10% from whom? Everyone: children, teenagers, adults. Everyone gives 10%.
• A person/family with a gross monthly income of $8,600 would have a monthly tithe of $860 or a weekly tithe of $215.
I’m getting really personal, so in my house, this is how it works:
Retirement + His Income + Her Income = Combined Family Income ÷10 = tithe
I take my military retirement from 20 years. God blessed me and gave me a great retirement, and I am so thrilled. I take the generous salary that you provide me; it’s awesome, it meets all my needs, and I appreciate it. I take my wife’s salary. I add them together, come up with combined family income, and divide that by 10. That is our tithe, our baseline figure, our starting point. That is the non-negotiable figure, and after that we start working our way up in offerings. That is the bottom line right there. I am obedient to God so that I know I am not robbing God. So you mean, Pastor Sean, you really run the numbers? Yes, I take out my calculator and I really run the numbers. Because I do not want to be tricked into thinking that I am really being obedient to God just because I have incrementally upped it every now and then. I have goals, and I have percentages that exceed 10%. I actually run all the numbers and I make sure, as I look throughout the year, that I am going to hit the mark. I am not going to share them with you because we are at all different points of our life with all different incomes and all that kind of stuff. But I am going to tell you that everyone is expected to give 10%.
• His Income 74,000.00
• Her Income 14,000.00
• Annual Tithe $8,800.00÷10
• Monthly Tithe $880.00
• Bi-Weekly $440.00
Where do I tithe?
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house,
What is the storehouse in the 21st Century?
What is mine house in the 21st Century?
“Storehouse” = General Fund
“Mine House” = Local Bible-believing, Christ exalting NT Church
Why are we going to do this, Pastor Sean? The answer is really simple: That there may be meat in mine house. So then Pastor, what is mine house? It’s got to be the local New Testament church today. What is the storehouse? It has to be the general fund. What is the purpose of bringing in this meat? Meat? Not beef, that is not the intent here. No. Cash in the general fund equals checks to the missionaries. Cash in the general fund equals a paid PWC bill. Cash in the general fund equals projectors, lights, carpeting, air conditioning, cut grass, paved parking lots, and buses that go out to pick up children so that at 8 years old they begin getting grounded in the Gospel. The diesel fuel that goes into those buses requires cash.
So I am going to wrap this up, and I’m going to be really quick.
God’s Promises To the One Who Tithes:
1. You can’t out give God.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Notice what he says, prove Me. God Almighty says prove Me. See if you can out give Me. See if I won’t take care of you. See if I am not the Sovereign Creator and God of the Universe who is more than capable of taking care of you. But we want to take matters into our own hands and decide that we know what is best.
2. God blesses those who tithe.
I thought God blesses everyone, Pastor? Not true. God blesses those who are obedient.
“prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” An absence of tithing is selfishness, a lack of faith, or a combination of both.
3. God will fiscally protect those who tithe.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
I am the God of the Universe, and I can take care of you as I see fit. Ultimately NOT tithing is a heart issue.
For where your treasure is there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21).
What is the solution for a heart issue in the life of a Christian? The solution is the Gospel. The Gospel reminds me that God is a giver. The Gospel reminds me that if God did not give, I would not have anything to give. So, what is the first step? I must repent of my selfishness. Then what? Believe by faith that God is capable of providing for my needs on 90% of my income. Any time I ignore that, do you know what I am saying? I am more important than You, God. I’ll manage my finances. God, you can take care of every other part of my life, but I’ll take care of my finances. Wait a minute: when we are in a crisis we want God to step in. But as long as we have a decent income coming in, we’ll handle that on our own accord. What a double standard. What do we do when we have a double standard? We repent and believe the Gospel.
Tithing acknowledges in a very real way that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17).