Tithe

God's Trust Test, part 2

by Pastor Bob Miller

Over these past posts, we've been talking about the importance that Trust plays in our relationship with God. Our key scripture passage comes from Proverbs 3. In verses 5-6 we read, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

The question has always been, "Do I have a whole-hearted trust in God?" Is that trust revealed in the way I live my life, in how I use my time, my talents, my possessions which God has entrusted into my care? This is important because there is a relationship between our trust and God's blessing.

We can say we trust God but how do we know for sure? What does it mean for you and I to trust God in our everyday lives completely? Let's look once again at the acrostic which uses the letters that spell out the word T.R.U.S.T. We want to finish up and focus on the last two of those letters.

Already we've looked at the first three letters.

Let's go into new territory and look at the S in TRUST:

S - Surrender Everything to God

Have you ever heard anyone say, "If I had more, I would give more" or "I can't give now – but when I get more, then I will start to give!" Jesus said in Luke 16:10, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much." What Jesus is saying is that if you are not giving sacrificially with what you have now, you won't give sacrificially when you have more. Why? Because there is a spiritual principle at work in our lives, and that principle is proven time after time. It's not how much we have of the world that dictates our generosity towards God, but how much God has of us!

The question for each of us who call ourselves Christian is, "Am I going to live any different from the way the world lives, trusting in themselves and going their own way? Or am I going to trust in His principles and do things His way?” The issue before us is not about our talent, our time, our abilities, or our money. The issue is, "Who do I trust?"

In Jeremiah 17:5-6, we find that the Lord contrasts the difference between an independent person and a person of trust and dependence:

"This is what the Lord says, 'Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands, he will not see prosperity when it comes, and he will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.'"

God says, ‘If you're going to rely on yourself, you're going to be like a bush, pushed by the wind...having no roots, no fruit, nothing…a tumbleweed.

But then He goes on to describe the person that trusts in the Lord and is dependent upon God.

"But blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Notice that the circumstances for each person are the same, but in times of drought and famine, the one whose trust is in God has resources that never dry up! We are called to surrender to God and let Him be in control.

T - Test God's Promises

This is where the rubber meets the road. It is where trust is revealed.

God has given us a test by which we can measure our trust in him. It is not something I've devised. It is a test that God has placed before us to help us to measure our TRUST. And every one of us is called to take this test. This test is given to us in Malachi 3:10-12,

"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 flood gates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit says the Lord Almighty. Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty."

Notice the promises that are found in these verses which God gives to his children when they put Him first by honoring Him with the tithe.

First - He Will Provide for Us

It is God talking! He says in verse 10, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse so that there will be food in my house." And then He says, "test me now on this and see if I will not open for you, the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing until it overflows."

Perhaps you're thinking, "Pastor you are telling me that God will take care of me in every area of my life, including finances, if I put God first? NO. I'm not telling you that. God is! This isn't my test. It's God's! He says: "If you put me first, not second, not third… then I will provide for you!"

He is saying, "Test me in this!" Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of heaven and His righteousness and all these other things will be added to you."

Here is the principle: In the area I obey, God blesses. In the area I disobey – God disciplines. Either way, God is committed to loving us. I happen to like Blessing better than discipline. What about you?

The Second Promise - He Will Protect Us

Malachi 3:11,

"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.

When we put God first with the first fruits of our labors, God says He will protect us. We come out farther ahead when we have God on our side than if we merely tried it on our own.

Third Promise - Our Lives Will be Attractive to Others.

Malachi 3:12,

“Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty.”

It will become evident to those around us that we are blessed. God is saying they will look longingly to what you have, to the joy you reveal, and to the peace you possess!

Israel, from the beginning days, always had a problem with serving the Lord "whole-heartedly." They longed to be like other nations and wanted a king. Malachi told them to put God first and the other nations will want to become like you and will want Me to be their Sovereign KING!

This is the only area in the Bible where God tells you to test Him. I think it is because this is so closely tied to the lordship issue and it also involves TRUSTING in Him on a practical level every day! When we TITHE we honor God because we recognize that He is the source. We are merely returning the TITHE to Him. We honor God also because it is a demonstration of our trust in Him – that He will meet my needs.

Some might ask, "What is the tithe?" The tithe is the first tenth of our income. In Proverbs 3: 9 we read, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops." It is the "first fruits" of the harvest or the first of our labor. The Bible is clear that the first tenth belongs to God and we are simply called to RETURN it to the Lord. This isn't even our offering. We return the tithe to the "storehouse" or to the place where we are fed spiritually. Our "offering" is what we give over and beyond the tithe. We give our offerings because we love God and we want to give beyond what is required.

Some of you are saying, "I've never tithed – I can't afford it' I understand that. There is never a good time to begin tithing. There never will be a good time because it isn't a matter of money. It is a matter of TRUST! It doesn't make sense that you can make it on 9/10th's of your income when you can't make it on 10/10th's Yet, God says you will. It becomes a matter of who is in control of your life.

I invite you to take this step of faith! Take God's TRUST TEST. Perhaps you've never stepped out to put Him first with the first fruit of your labor.

In 1859, there was a tightrope walker by the name of Charles Blondine. He strung a rope 1,100 feet across Niagra Falls. As the crowds looked on, he would walk across. One day he took a wheelbarrow and walked across with a sack of flour in it. Then asked the crowd, "Do you believe I can take a person across?" The crowd shouted, "We believe." "Then who will get in?" Finally, a small lady stepped forward and off they went. It was his mother!

The point is, we can say we believe but until we step out in faith, we are fooling ourselves. The tithe is not a life-threatening stunt, but it is stepping out to trust Him. Will you get in the wheelbarrow?