6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
This passage is a very common passage that is used to challenge people to give financially. It is a good one to be sure, but sometimes the context is missed and that is unfortunate. Usually just verse 10 is quoted to encourage people to open up their bank accounts.
What exactly is the context? After Israel had been exiled and then been returned to the land they expected God to bless them. The Temple had been rebuilt, but there was no fervor for God; their love for God had grown cold. Corruption had sunk into the priesthood and the people of God had begun to question God’s faithfulness and goodness. The problem was not on the side of God.
God pointed out how the people had broken covenant with God. The sacrifices that were being offered were blemished (ch. 1). They were going through the motions, but they weren’t giving God a worthy sacrifice. Their hearts had grown cold.
In chapter 3 they were withholding the complete tithe. They weren’t Giving to God what was rightfully due to him. The text says they “robbed” God. That is strong language! It implies that it belonged to God, it was His. By keeping some of it back they were robbing God. God chastised them for this, but He also offers a potential blessing. That’s where verse 10 comes into play. If you will bring the tithe God will pour out his blessing.
How much more should we bring the tithe to God? Tithe means a tenth. When we give we are worshiping God, this is true in the Old Testament, but also the New. There is room for debate about what the New testament says about how much to give, but 10% or 1/10 is a good number. The math is simple, if you make $1,000.00 the you move the decimal to the left one spot and give that $100.00. For some people 10% wouldn’t be very generous, for others it is a significant sacrifice. That is something that we all need to work out by seeking God’s calling, but it is safe to say that all of us should probably give more than we do.
Pray for God to work on your heart. How much should you and I be giving at church? That is part of the generosity equation. For some it might be 15%, not 10%. Pray for generosity today!!