The Legacy of the Tenth

April 24, 2016

Here
we are, week four of money month 2016, you still doing alright?  We having fun? 
For those
who are visiting with us or new to Cornerstone this is an annual event.  Each April I take the opportunity to teach
the theology of stewardship, which is a fancy way of saying we look at what the
Bible says about money, what got, how we get it and what we do with it after we
get it.  Nice thing is that means I won’t
ambush you about money throughout the year. 
And we
culminate Money Month with an event we call Step Up Cornerstone which happens
today and we will be talking more about that later in the service. 
This year
our theme has been “Your Legacy, Your Life.” 
  In week one we looked at the
fact that everyone of us will leave some type of legacy, for good or for
bad.  We leave a legacy in the way we
spend our lives and the way we spend our money. 
And the type of legacy we leave will be determined by the choices we
make.
In week
two I spoke on the legacy of work. And we looked at how work is something that
we were designed for, and that work is something that is expected of us, and it
is through work that we leave a legacy with our giving. 
Last week
we looked at the length of the legacy we leave with our giving.  And some giving has a relatively short shelf
life.  When Jesus feed thousands of
people on the shores of Galilee with five loaves and two fish, it met an
immediate need, it was important, but the next day those folks were hungry
again.  So some gifts last a day. 
Other
gifts will last for a lifetime.  When
Cornerstone provides sources of clean water in West and Central Africa those
gifts are life changing.  We have
impacted the lives of thousands of people in Sierra Leone and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo and that legacy will last a lifetime.
But the
most important gifts we give are the one that lead people to God, we often say
that our purpose at Cornerstone is help de-populate hell.  Those gifts last for Eternity.
Which
bring us here today, so let’s jump into our scripture which is the “go to”
scriptures for preachers and tithing. 
Malachi
3:10 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!
There are
times that I think “God why did you have to put this scripture where you put
it?  Just another page, just another 13
verses and it would have been in the New Testament and I wouldn’t have had to
listen to people say ‘but that’s in the Old Testament that doesn’t count’”
And then
I realize that I’m not God and he put it exactly where it belongs.  So what about the argument that it’s in the
Old Testament and it doesn’t count, or the “I’m not under the law I’m under
grace” statement?
What
people fail to recognize with this argument is that grace always goes further
than the law.  It’s throughout the
Gospels.  The law says don’t murder,
grace says don’t hate.  The law says
don’t commit adultery, grace says don’t lust after someone you aren’t married
to.  The law says love your neighbor,
grace says love your enemy.  So why would
Jesus change that with tithing? He wouldn’t and he didn’t.  In Luke chapter 11 Jesus confronts the
Pharisees about the hypocrisy and he tells them: Luke 11:42 “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.  They were tithing the smallest of
things in their lives, they were tithing their winning Roll Up the Rim Cups,
but they weren’t nice people.  But Jesus
doesn’t tell them they should stop tithing. 
Let’s keep reading, You should tithe, yes, but
do not neglect the more important things.
 
So with
that out of the way, let’s go back to where we started from Malachi 3:10 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!
In
particular I want to look at the portion that says “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! This is the word of God, speaking
to God’s people and it says that God will pour His blessings on His
people.  And not just any blessing, this
passage says He will pour out a blessing so great that we won’t be able to take
it in.  Would you like to be blessed?
Would you like your life to be characterized as being blessed of God?  Sure you would, so here’s the secret. 
It begins
with one very small very important word, just two letters and yet this entire
promise hinges on that word.  And the
word is “if”.  God
is waiting and willing to bless His people, but, there’s another small yet
important word, the choice is always up to us if we want to be blessed.  In this case the word of God says “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be
enough food in my Temple. If you do, . . .” 
What will happen?  God will open the windows of heaven and not
only that but out of those windows a blessing will be poured. 
And we
aren’t always comfortable with that, it seems. . .selfish.  We want to think that the blessing for giving
is simply the warm feeling we get from giving. 
But the concept of the tithe is that we are simply returning to God a
portion of what he gives to us and throughout the bible we are taught that when
we are faithful with what God has blessed us with then he blesses us with
more. 
So what
does it mean when God promises to pour out a blessing on those who are
faithful?  The short and simple answer
here is that God promised to bless the Israelites if they paid their
tithe.  So what is the tithe?  Tithe simply means tenth and throughout the
word of God the concept is reiterated that all that we have comes from God but
he requires a tenth of it back. 
For the
people of God this does not mean that we give God ten percent of what is ours,
it means that He allows us to keep ninety percent of what is His.  And in this case God tells his people, “If
you tithe, if you return to me ten percent of what I have given to you then I
will bless you”  You see when we give to
God, we are just taking our hands off what already belongs to Him.
And that
is the short answer, and if that was the entire answer then we’d be
finished.  We could sing a song to close
and we could go home but you would have received only a portion of what you
need in order to achieve God’s blessings today.
Here then
is the long answer the answer that is contained in the short answer.
You Leave a Legacy in Your Obedience.  The fact that the Israelites had not been paying their tithe was only
evidence of a much great problem and that was their obedience or their
disobedience in this case. The concept of the tithe goes back to Genesis, the
first book in the Bible, when Abraham gave King Melchizedek, who was also a
priest, ten percent of his belongings as an act of worship to God. 
The
commandment to God’s people to return ten percent of what God had given them is
first recorded in Leviticus 27:30 “One tenth of the
produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees,
belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy.” It is also
mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22 “You must set aside a
tithe of your crops—one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year.  Throughout the Old Testament we see
God’s people responding to the command of the Tithe, when they were living in
obedience to God’s will and commandments.  However when they were living in disobedience
it is often evidenced by the fact that they were not giving to God’s work.
In fact
God often uses our giving as a spiritual barometer, because if we are finding
it difficult to give something as paltry as money how much more difficult will
it be to give important things like our time, our will and our future?
So when
we are obedient to God then he blesses us. 
Now some of you might be thinking “That’s blackmail or bribery.” No,
that is reality.  When our children are
disobedient do we rush out immediately to buy them a gift or take them to a
special restaurant?  “I am so glad that
you wrote on the living room wall with crayons and didn’t do your homework, let
me buy you something special.”  No, that
happens when they do what we want them to do.
Tithing
is only a small part of who and what we are as Christians, but is a part it
can’t be ignored.  But neither can it be
a bribe to excuse our disobedience in other areas.  If people could just pay their tithe and then
do whatever they liked with immunity the church wouldn’t be able to spend the
money they had.
God is
still looking for our obedience to His word and He will bless us when we obey
Him. 
Jesus tells us that unless we obey him we don’t really
love him John 14:15 “If you love me, obey my
commandments.  When we were
children and we disobeyed our parents we felt guilty, and that wasn’t a fun
feeling was it?  As believers when we do
what we shouldn’t  do or we when we don’t
do what we should we feel guilty as well, sometimes we call that conviction and
that isn’t a great feeling is it?  By the
way, when we stop feeling guilty about our disobedience it’s not that the
action has become all right it’s that our hearts have become hardened.
You Leave a Legacy in Your Faithfulness.  This goes back to the concept of all we have as coming from God, he has
entrusted us with our material possessions to make an impact on this
world.  And we can choose to do that or
choose not to do that and that is entirely up to us.  But if we choose to spend what was meant for
the sacred on the secular then God is not going to bless us.  The concept is laid out in Luke 16:10 When Jesus said “If you are faithful in little things,
you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things,
you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
The New International Version says it this way Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also
be trusted with very much. 
If we go back into the Old Testament we discover that when
Israel was faithful to God, then God blessed them.  When he could trust them with what they had
then he was willing to trust them with even more, and the converse was also
true.  When God’s people could not be
trusted then the blessings of God were removed.
If your boss can’t trust you do you think you will be
promoted?  If you’re spouse can’t trust
you to be faithful with your love and your emotions do you think the
relationship will grow.  I truly believe
that God blesses us based on our past performance with his blessings.  When we aren’t faithful, when we can’t be
trusted how do we feel?  Not good huh?
You Leave a Legacy in
Your Honesty. 
When you take
something that doesn’t belong to you but belongs to somebody else it is called
stealing.  When you take what doesn’t
belong to you but belongs to God it’s still called stealing.  If we look back into the book of Malachi this
is what God says Malachi 3:8 “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.”  In other words you cheat God when you
keep what is his. 
So it’s
not just a matter of obedience and faithfulness it is a matter of honesty.  Many people who would never take a penny that
belonged to somebody else have no problem taking and keeping what rightfully belongs
to God.
But
honesty doesn’t just have to do with money. 
We can steal the affections of someone who isn’t our spouse, that’s
called adultery, we can steal somebody’s good name that’s called slander, we
can steal the honour that is due God and that is called idolatry.  To take something that doesn’t belong to us
is a sin, by whatever name you call it. 
And God will not bless us in our sin.
So
if those are some of the Legacies we leave what are the results of those
legacies?
Let’s start with the least important thing, Your Legacy Will Have a Momentary Component
Throughout the scriptures this concept has been taught, if
you are faithful to God with your finances then God will reward you.  The word “give” is used over 1100 times in
the Bible and we see this concept taught, again and again.  Listen to Ecclesiastes
11:1 Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.  Or Proverbs
11:24 Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. You
understand the concept, that if God provides for his work and his Kingdom
through his people then it is in the best interest of His work and his Kingdom
for those who are faithful to prosper.
If I was going away for a while and told some of my staff
“Each month I’m going to send you $10,000.00 (remember this is only an
illustration) and you can use that however you want but you need to give
$1,000.00 a month to Angela.  It would
seem like a pretty good deal right? 
And say after four months Angela and I were talking and I
asked her how she was doing financially and she said “you know staff person “A”
send me a thousand dollars a month, every month I can expect it on the first
day.  Staff person “B” has been sending
me $2,000.00 a month, don’t know why, I was only expecting $1,000.00 but it is
a blessing.  That’s cool, so I ask, “What
about staff person “C”?”  “Well” she says
“the first month I got $1000.00 the second month I got $700.00 and then $400.00
this month nothing.” 
What do you think I’m going to do?  I’m going to stop sending money to Staff
person C and start sending it to Staff person B. 
Which is why Jesus tells us in Luke
19:26 “and to those
who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who
do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
The bible tells us that the church is the bride of Christ
and he provides for us so we can provide for his bride.
R.G. LeTourneau
was an American Inventor and committed Christian.  What did he invent?  Heavy earth moving equipment, much of what
they use in excavation and road work today was originally the brain child of
Robert LeTourneau.  And he became very
wealthy doing what he did, and as his income grew so did his giving but he
wasn’t content with simply giving a tithe and by the end of his life he was
giving back ninety percent and living on the other ten percent. And this is
what R.G. LeTourneau said “I shovel money out, and God shovels it back … but God has
a bigger shovel”
Most of
us have either read the book, seen the movie, watched the play or at least
heard of The Diary of Anne Frank, and Anne
Frank said “No one has ever become poor by
giving.”
I’ve used this before but in the
book  “The 10
Secrets Revenue Canada Doesn’t Want You to Know”  The author David M.
Voth writes in his chapter on Charitable Giving.  “Ask people who
tithe faithfully and they will tell you of the ten, hundred and thousand times
returns they have received by giving. 
Universally, tithers will also tell you that if you tithe you’ll live
better on the 90% than you ever did before on the 100%.  The prosperity benefits of tithing are so
significant that it would be worth it even if it came without any tax
benefits.  However, there are also tax
benefits to tithing.” 
I came across a neat saying that
kind of sums up this point, You should give according to your income, lest
God make your income according to your giving. 
So here’s a question, could you live on 10 times what you give to
the church each week?
But the
momentary blessings are the least important. 
Your Legacy Will Have an Emotional Component When we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing we feel guilty or
under conviction.  And I know some of you
think that I’m the one that tries to make you feel guilty.  Not so, I simply present the word of God, if
you are feeling guilty that’s your doing not mine.  If I did a poll right now, some of you would
feel guilty and wish I would change my sermon right now to something pointed
like Apple Pie, Motherhood and Lower Taxes while others wouldn’t be feeling the
least bit convicted. 
If I were
to preach on adultery or lust who would feel guilty?  If I was to preach on lying or stealing who
would feel guilty? If I was to preach on unforgiveness who would feel
guilty?  And guilt will tie you up in
emotional knots.  Ask the person who is
having an affair how they feel around their spouse, as the person who is
stealing from the company how they feel around their boss, ask the person who
cheats on their income tax how they feel when a letter arrives from the tax
department.
And so
the legacy of our obedience is emotional freedom, a clear conscience makes a
soft pillow.  Listen to God’s word in Romans 4:7 “Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.
Have felt
the Joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven?   Which lead us to the last point Your Legacy Will Have a Spiritual Component
When we are disobedient to
God, in whatever area of our lives it puts up a road block between us and
Him.  You see disobedience is simply a
big word that describes a little word and that word is sin.  The bible, the word of God says in James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
And the result of sin? 
We are told in Isaiah 59:2  It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
But when you are walking as you are supposed to be walking,
talking as you are supposed to be talking and doing as you are supposed to be
doing then you are in fellowship with God, the doors of communication are open
and you are right where you are supposed to be with your God and creator.  Is that where you are this morning?  If not then it can be.  The blessing that God has in store for his believers
are for those who are obedient in all areas of their lives.  For those who are walking in the light that he
has given them.  If you are not a
believer then those blessings aren’t even on the menu yet but they can be, and
in either case the choice is yours, do you obey or do you disobey? 
The promise that is here for you is found in the last part
of Malachi 3:10 . . .Try it! Put me to the test! Do
you want to be blessed, then try it and let Him prove it to you.