Sunday, June 26, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Ten Percent or a Blank Check?  
Malachi 3:7-12

Tibi Mathew

St. Peter’s MTC, NJ
"Ever since the days of your ancestors 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." vs.7
 Malachi is a book about the restored Jewish community who doubted God’s covenantal love and no longer trusted His justice. They were beginning to lose hope. Consequently, they were unfaithful to God and did not take the law seriously. The prophet Malachi calls out the Jewish people for breaking their covenant with God by withholding their tithes.  
    A curse was placed on the whole nation because they were robbing God (Malachi 3:9). They faced the consequence because of their unfaithfulness. Jesus said more about money than any other single thing during His time on Earth. Why is that? Richard Halverson, who was a chaplain of the US Senate once said: “Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’s character and how he handles his money.”
    Many people turn to this particular passage for guidance on financial practice. The word tithe means 10%. In the Old Testament, we see the mandate to give 10% to God (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:26-32; Deuteronomy 14:22-27). We like the idea of giving 10% because it gives us a minimum, however, the New Testament doesn’t give us any percentages. Rather we see the early church not only tithing but also selling their property and possessions to those in need (Acts 2:45). If we review last month’s bank statement what would that say about our philosophy of giving? Our giving does not ensure our salvation but it is surely an evidence of it.
    How was the early church taught to give? If we look through the New Testament we see our giving should be a planned priority in our lives (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), proportional to what we have (2 Corinthians 8:2-4), sacrificial (Philippians 4:17-18), intentional (Philippians 4:16), cheerful and not under compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7), and voluntary (2 Corinthians 8:8). These verses do not give us a percentage to give, but it teaches us giving as an act of obedience and a way to worship God.
    God did not tell the Jewish community to return to the law. Rather He said, “Return to me.” Jesus never asked us to meet minimum standards in our giving. He commands our unconditional surrender- a blank check before God. He is looking for followers who are willing to give up their lives for His sake and the sake of the Gospel.  So let us go before our God who gave it all for us and surrender our hearts and desires so we may be part of building His kingdom here.

PRAYER

Almighty God, please reveal to us every area of our lives in which we are robbing You, increase our joy in giving, and teach us to value our riches in Jesus more than the things we find in this world. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
"So the solution to stinginess is a reorientation to the generosity of Christ in the gospel, where he poured out his wealth for you". Timothy Keller, Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything