Don’t you just hate it when the pastor starts talking money?  You just sit there with steely eyes and tight lips.  “You are butting into my business, now Pastor.  Going too far.  What I give to the church is between me and God, not you, me and God.”  You avoid shaking his hand after the service, but if you have to, you certainly don’t tell him it was a good sermon.  Humph.

What is it about money that sets us on edge?  We can thank God for our good health, our home, our families, our food.  We even thank God for the jobs that allow us to provide for ourselves and our families.  Have we ever thanked God for providing money so that we can give it back to Him?  Oops!! Did you see that?  The word back.  Oh snap.  I slipped that in there.

Before I go too far into this, and you think I am preaching at you, let me tell you that this is an area that my husband and I have wrestled with our entire marriage (20 years!).  Before we married, I gave 10%.  But I was a single girl and able to do that without any worries (which would have been conjured up on my own and without merit anyway).  My husband may shoot me for this, so this may be my last post;-)  He wasn’t ready for that.  To be fair, his walk with Christ at that time was not very deep.  He has grown, and changed a lot over the years, and I am so proud of him!!  As the children began to come, and money became tighter, it was easy to not give a full 10%.  And it was easy for me to think that it was probably just as well that we didn’t.  I will say that we did increase our giving each time we received a raise in pay.  And I did insist on giving 10% of any large lump some that we received unexpectedly.  I was really uncomfortable talking about this with my husband, and probably should have been bolder.  I went to prayer.  As the wife, I felt that I could not disobey/dishonor my husband by giving more than he approved of.  So I would talk to God about it.  I just asked Him to work in my husband’s heart and make the changes that were necessary.  Recently he has come to me ready to give that tithe…but it is scary for both of us.  We know our finances.  We know our needs.  How are we going to meet our needs with the finances we have coming in when we give more to God?  We start looking for other places that we can cut back, thinking things are going to be tighter.  And they might be.  But did we ever have a right to hold back the money that we haven’t given over the years in the first place?

Is it a coincidence that I tripped over the following passage in God’s Word this morning while looking for the time periods that a few certain books were written?  Not likely!!

Malachi 2:8-12 (NCV) –
“Should a person rob God?  But you are robbing me. 
“You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’
“You have robbed me in your offerings and the tenth of your crops.  So a curse is on you, because the whole nation has robbed me.  Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn so there will be food in my house.  Test me on this,” says the Lord All-Powerful.  “I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need.  I will stop the insects so they won’t eat your crops.  The grapes won’t fall from your vines before they are ready to pick,” says the Lord All-Powerful.  All the nations will call you blessed, because you will have a pleasant country,” says the Lord All-Powerful.

   Well, there is really no pussy-footin’ around there.  No, “I gave to you, so you give back.”  Certainly no, “Just give as you see fit.  Whatever you are comfortable with.  That is okay with me.”  NO.  It is hard hitting!  God says it like He sees it.  He gives to us, and commands a tenth in return.  When we don’t return that tenth, He considers it robbery!!  It takes either a pretty gutsy, or a pretty stupid, person to rob from God.  I don’t know about you, but I definitely never thought about it this way before.  And I’m feeling pretty stupid right now.  Forgive me, Lord All-Powerful!!

God is a gracious and merciful god, though.  Did you notice that He didn’t leave it with the conviction?  Oh praise Him!!!  He gives us a way to make things right.  Not only that, but He promises to pour out blessings from Heaven!  If someone robs from me, but gives it back.  I am probably likely to let bygones be bygones.  But would I turn around and give them a whole bunch of my good things in return.  Um, I’m thinking…no.  That is what God does.  He even tells us to test Him on it and see if that is not what He will do.  Why do we say we believe what God says is true, and trust that He will do what He promised with everything except money.  No wonder Jesus made a point of warning that we cannot worship both God and money.  He knew it was too great a temptation to not address.

We are going to take God up on that offer.  We are going to test Him…but we are going to step out in faith and know that He will indeed open Heaven’s gates and pour out blessings on us.  Will you join us, and receive His blessings?  I will pray for us, and you, to have the faith to believe that God will be true to His word, and keep His promises.  God be with you all!!!