REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 26, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“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 man 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.
Do Christians tithe? Not many, as it turns out. Missiologist David Barrett reported in 2000 that while the annual income of all the Christians in the world was about $12 trillion, their total giving stood at $213 billion, a meager 1.7 percent. Pollster George Barna once noted that while 17 percent of adults claim to tithe, only 3% actually do so.
Many Israelites in Malachi’s time also didn’t tithe. Referring to them as “robbers,” the displeased Lord declared that they are under a curse because of their stinginess. Even so, to encourage them to give more generously, God promised to bless them abundantly if they began tithing.
Actually, there is a more effective way to spike up people’s offering: make tithing a requirement for salvation. One group has done this and its members give about 7.5 percent of the income to their organization, the Mormon Church, which teaches that there are three levels of heaven. To make it to the highest heaven called “Celestial,” tithing is required along with a life of duty, morality, and loyalty.
Now, if your pastor begins preaching that tithing is required to go to heaven, maybe half of the congregation will stay and start giving more, while the other half, the smart ones, will leave. What makes them intelligent is because they know “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—and not by work” (Eph. 2:8-9a), which includes tithing. If one qualification for entering heaven is how much we give, then those who gave more would have the right to boast. But Ephesians 2:9 ends with, “. . . so that no one case boast.”
The fact that good works are not required to qualify us for heaven is why we tithe: to show our gratefulness to God, because if good works were required, then no one would be able to go to heaven (Rom. 3:20). We want our money to be used to tell more people about the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.
So, how is your giving? Don’t rob God. Be thankful that He is letting us keep 90 percent of His money. Be generous today; be generous this Sunday. Reflect. Think. Pray.
Prayer: I sing a song of love and praise to my amazing God who has blessed me in so many different ways. However, I confess that I harbor an unthankful heart whenever I see others who have more. How immature and childish, and there is no hope for me apart from you believing in me. And through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me, help me to complain less, be more thankful and generous. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 2
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Cor. 8: 7-9: “But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
2 Cor. 9:6-8: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Questions to Consider
- What is one theological reason Paul offers that ought to motivate us to give more generously?
- Why would God want a cheerful and willing giver?
- Do you struggle with giving? Do you know why? If you’ve struggled in the past, how did you overcome it?
- The theological reason: Christ was rich before his incarnation, in the sense that he had all his glory with him, but he became poor when he left it with the Father (Jn. 17:5: “. . . the glory I had with you before”) to be “made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:6-7) so that he can take our place and die for our sins. One natural response to that, according to Paul, is to be excellent in giving.
- To be forced to give means that the giver isn’t convinced that what God did for him is all that great nor that he appreciates God. When I was working as an airport shuttle van driver in 1990, I once refused a $10 tip from a customer who disrespected me. I said, “It’s okay; I don’t want your tip.” Likewise, God wouldn’t want anything from someone who gives only because he is forced.
- For most people, giving equates to losing money or not being able to buy or do things. It really comes down to having the right perspective: God is letting me keep 90 percent of His money. Also, the promise in Malachi shouldn’t be dismissed: He will certainly bless the generous giver in more ways than one: “enlarge[ing] my territory” (1 Chron. 4:10) is certainly one of them.
How did you spend His money today? Did you get to spend it on someone who needed some encouragement? If you have not been generous with God, then pray for a right attitude.