“HONOUR THE LORD”
1. It struck me, as I looked over the giving records for this past year, that there are some who are in need of Biblical instruction with regard to this matter of giving. So, this morning’s exposition and sermon will be especially helpful for some of you.
2. For others this will be a time of encouragement, to reinforce decisions you made and actions that you began implementing a long time ago. For still others this morning will be a time that you can look back on as a time when your understanding of Bible truths was sharpened, when your approach to giving wasn’t much changed, just fine tuned a bit to bring things into a more clearly focused obedience to God’s Word.
3. No one ever arrives when it comes to the Christian life. We are all always in need of doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. This morning your doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness will have to do with tithes and offerings.
4. First, let’s settle on what a tithe is. The tithe is the tenth part. And the way you figure out what the amount of your tithe is is to take your paycheck stub, where it shows your gross income, and move the decimal point one place to the left. Thus, if you receive your pay weekly, and the stub says that your gross income for the week is $850, then the tithe on your pay would be a check for $85. For $600 it would be $60, and so on.
5. If you bought a house for $175,000 and sold it two years later for $225,000 your tithe on the house sale would be ten percent of the amount the house appreciated. Since the house appreciated $50,000 your tithe would be $5,000. The tithe, then, is simply ten percent of your increase, whether it be salary, the appreciation of your house at the time of sale, or whatever.
6. God’s will is not only for people to give tithes of their increase, but also offerings beyond tithes. So, what is an offering? It’s anything greater than your tithe. As you will see in a bit, God’s requirement is that His creatures give to Him tithes and offerings.
7. Having explained what tithes and offerings are, let me establish three things about tithes and offerings:
1A. First, TITHES & OFFERINGS ARE AN OBLIGATION
Some people think that giving tithes and offerings to God is an option that you can either buy into or opt out of. Others think that only Christians are obligated to give tithes and offerings. Still others live with the delusion that since we live in the age of grace tithes and offerings are not called for by God. A couple of verses and a little bit of thought will dispel those false notions to all but the willingly deceived.
1B. Proverbs 3.7-12
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
1C. Notice that these six verses are thought by the King James Version translators to comprise a single paragraph, and I think with good reason.
2C. Verses 7 & 8 admonish the reader to not be wise in his own eyes, to fear the LORD, and to depart from evil, indicating that such an approach to life is healthy.
3C. Verses 9 & 10 direct the reader to honor the LORD with his substance, and to give to God first from your increase. In other words, we are commanded to give from our substance to God, thereby honoring Him, and to give from our first fruits. That means, what goes to God comes off the top. You do not give to God from what you have left over. That is, you do not pay your bills and then give to God if there is any left over. No. You honor God when you give to Him first, and then take care of your own debts and obligations, thereby showing that God is first in your considerations and most important in your priorities.
4C. Verses 11 & 12 are very familiar, showing that God corrects those He loves. “But pastor, I can’t afford to give tithes and offerings.” My friend, you can’t afford not to give tithes and offerings. You claim you don’t have it to give, but God’s Word shows that because you don’t give it you don’t have. You are looking at things backwards from the way God says things are, and it may be that your current financial state is the direct result of God chastening you for failing to give Him tithes and offerings.
2B. Genesis 14.20: “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he [Abraham] gave him tithes of all.” Genesis 28.22b: “and of all that thou shalt give me I [Jacob] will surely give the tenth unto thee.”
1C. There are some who say, “I don’t have to tithe, because tithing is under the Jewish Law.” But Genesis 14.20, showing Abraham tithing, and Genesis 28.22, showing Jacob’s recognition of his obligation to tithe, both took place centuries before the Jewish Law was given through Moses. To be sure, the Law has much to say about tithing, but by way of regulating tithes and offerings, not initiating the principle of tithes and offerings. So, tithes and offerings are very clearly before the giving of the Jewish Law. Thus, tithes and offerings are not limited to the Jewish Law of Moses, but apply to all men throughout the history of mankind.
2C. Still others would say, “I don’t have to tithe, because I am not a Christian.” I am quite sure that tithes and offerings are a great stumbling block to many Hell-bound sinners, since the love of money is the root of all evil, First Timothy 6.10. But I would hasten to point out that with both Abraham and Jacob the recognition of their obligation to give tithes and offerings to God came years before either one of them was converted. So, both Abraham and Jacob were convinced that giving tithes and offerings was the obligation of everyone under God’s heaven.
3C. I am of the opinion that great sin is committed against God by those who would make one excuse or the other as a pretense to conceal their love of money, when the fact of the matter is that tithes and offerings are the obligation of every man, every woman, and every child, whether that person is a Christian or not. I am persuaded that good mothers and good fathers train their children to give tithes and offerings to the LORD, and, of course, give tithes and offerings themselves.
2A. Second, TITHES & OFFERINGS ARE AN OPPORTUNITY
In Second Corinthians 9.7, Paul declares to the Corinthians that “God loveth a cheerful giver.” And many Christians give their tithes and offerings with such abundance of good cheer that they never think of the obligation associated with giving tithes and offerings, but with the opportunities associated with giving.
1B. First Corinthians 9
1C. Most of First Corinthians chapter 9 is devoted to the issue of Paul’s right to be supported by the tithes and offerings that Christians give to God through their Church. Though the word “tithe” and the word “offering” are not found in the chapter, several references to Old Testament passages clearly show that the ministers of the Gospel are supposed to be supported by worshipers. Paul is in this chapter showing the Corinthians that they needed to support pastors with their tithes and offerings.
2C. The principle is established in First Corinthians 9.9, where animals pulling plows are allowed to eat from the field they toil in, and from First Corinthians 9.13, where priests who ministered at the Temple were provided for by the tithes and offerings given at the Temple. Both references are used to demonstrate Paul’s lesson of verse 14, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”
3C. I am profoundly grateful that God enables me to pastor this Church and receive a salary. I would pastor this Church for no salary if it came to that. I would serve as a bi-vocational pastor, and made plans to do so on two occasions since I have been here. But those of you who give your tithes and offerings to support this ministry have seized upon the opportunity God has given to you to have a pastor who has the time to study and properly prepare. I am thankful to God for what you who give tithes and offerings do. I am sad beyond words that there are some who smile and say nice words, but do not contribute to the effort of enabling me to devote my time to prayer and the ministry of the Word. You rob yourself when you are willing to eat at a restaurant, but are unwilling to pay for the meal. Amen?
4C. “I don’t give tithes and offerings because I don’t have the money, pastor.” No, you have it entirely backwards. It’s is precisely because you do not give tithes and offerings that you do not have the money. You see, that’s how God, Who controls all things, has worked things out.
2B. Second Corinthians 8.8b: “. . . to prove the sincerity of your love.”
1C. You can read the entirety of Second Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 to see for yourself the context in which this phrase as a motive for giving is set.
2C. All I want to do is read what opportunity you take advantage of by giving. Listen to what Paul wrote: “to prove the sincerity of your love.” I am not interpreting what he wrote, I am only reading what he wrote: “to prove the sincerity of your love.”
3C. There are some things you cannot prove by talking about it. There are some things you cannot prove by praying about it. There are some things you can only prove by paying for it. Is your love sincere? Is it really? Then let them turn off the phone so you can give “to prove the sincerity of your love.” Let them repossess your car “to prove the sincerity of your love,” if it comes to that. But such things rarely happen when someone makes up his mind to give God tithes and offerings.
4C. “Sounds extreme, pastor.” Some people are into extreme sports. I am a proponent of extreme Christianity. What an opportunity to show the sincerity of your love. Amen? Give to the cause of Christ.
3B. Philippians 4.15: “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me (which is to say gave to me) as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”
1C. First Corinthians 9 shows the opportunity you have with tithes and offerings to support and provide for the ministry of your pastor.
2C. Second Corinthians 8.8 shows the opportunity you have with tithes and offerings to show the sincerity of your love, while 8.24 shows the opportunity you have with tithes and offerings to show the proof of your love.
3C. And Philippians 4.15 shows the opportunity you have with tithes and offerings to support and provide for the ministry of a missionary. And note, here, that it was the Church that gave to Paul, not individuals.
4C. We Baptists believe that all tithes and offerings should be directed through the Church you are a member of, so that our Church, like the Philippian Church did with Paul, can support our own ministry, our missionaries, and our other projects. Baptists are not into freelance, go it your own, Lone Ranger, Christianity. Amen?
5C. After all, when Paul raised money for the destitute Christians in Judea, he did not direct the money to be sent to individuals, or through individuals. Rather, those Christians in those Churches were directed to give to their Churches, which would then designate the means for properly distributing the gifts that were given.
6C. There are many in these last days who want to run their own private little missions agencies, or their own private evangelistic associations. But such is not the Baptist way of doing things, and is certainly not the Bible way of doing things.
7C. Do you realize that Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Jan & Paul Crouch, and all the other Christian frauds were made possible only because professing Christians did not give exclusively through their Churches? People may think they are doing good by being generous in such ways, but they are deviating from established Biblical principle and weakening legitimate congregations by so doing.
3A. TITHES & OFFERINGS ARE AN OBLIGATION, TITHES & OFFERINGS ARE AN OPPORTUNITY, AND TITHES & OFFERINGS ARE AN HONOR
Proverbs 3.9: “Honour the LORD with thy substance”
1B. Some people limit the concept of honoring someone to speaking respectfully of him, or of showing well-mannered humility. But in God’s Word we find that honor is much more substantial than that. Honor, in the Bible, is more than mere words. You honor a qualified widow by giving her money, First Timothy 5.3. You give double honor to a qualified pastor by giving him a double salary, First Timothy 5.17. So, you would limit God’s honor to pleasant words? No. No.
2B. In Isaiah 29.13, the Lord says, “Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” Thus, you can “honor” with your lips and be far from God with your heart.
3B. It was the Lord Jesus Christ Who claimed, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Luke 12.34. If you want your heart to be close to God, so that you will honor God with your heart and not with your lips alone, then you must give of your treasure to Him. How much of your treasure? A tithe and offerings beyond the tithe. And when should you give to God? First, it’s to be your first fruits, before you give to anything else, before you spend on anything else . . . or else it’s not the first fruits.
4B. When you give tithes and offerings you honor God. By the same token, it is clear that when you will not give tithes and offerings to God you dishonor Him. If Pharaoh is any example of what happens to someone who will not honor God, if you do not honor Him He will extract honor from you. Exodus 14.17-18: “And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”
1. I have given you a great deal to think about during this exposition. Giving tithes and offerings, ten percent of your income plus offerings besides, is first an obligation, is next an opportunity, and is finally God’s prescribed way for you to honor Him.
2. Do you honor God with tithes and offerings? That is, do you give to God ten percent of your income and offerings in addition to that? If I understand God’s Word, a person who does not honor God in this way actually dishonors Him. It is not good to dishonor God. He is not pleased by such stinginess and greed.
3. Brother Isenberger comes now to lead us as we stand and sing before this morning’s sermon.
1. It is the tendency of modern western man to think that life can be compartmentalized, that areas of life can be segregated, so that they do not affect one another. Such a person thinks he can be a cut throat and unethical businessman at work, while still being a spiritual Christian when he is at home or at Church.
2. We saw this nonsensical approach to life acted out on the world stage when the Congressional Democrats maintained that President Clinton’s private character was a separate and unrelated issue to his public persona and capacity to lead as our nation’s president. But since the Republicans were just about as immoral in their private lives they couldn’t much say much, could they?
3. However, we saw for ourselves that a man who will cheat on his wife is a man who will lie on the job about other things. We saw that a man who is selfish and self-centered about lust is also a man who will not control other appetites and urges.
4. In short, it is crazy to think you can so compartmentalize your life, to think you can put one area of your life into one cubby hole and put another area of your life into another cubby, that the sins committed in one area of life will not adversely affect and influence every other area of life.
5. What am I driving at? The point that I seek to make is that giving tithes and offerings to God, or not giving tithes and offerings to God, affects every other area of a person’s life, because where your treasure is there will your heart be also, and “. . . from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man,” Mark 7.21-23.
6. There is so much to be found in the Bible regarding giving of tithes and offerings, and how it affects a person’s life and relationships. But time prevents me from doing anything more than quickly covering three aspects of giving tithes and offerings:
1A. First, THE WISDOM OF GIVING TITHES & OFFERINGS
1B. In Third John 2, John writes, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” This verse establishes a spiritual priority, with the prosperity of the soul ranking higher than physical health, which in turn ranks higher than material prosperity. Yet those who do not give tithes and offerings typically practice their stinginess because they reverse God’s priorities, placing finances above health and spiritual welfare in importance.
2B. But Proverbs 3.7, 8 and 9, which I read earlier, clearly shows that giving actually leads to physical health and material prosperity, rather than being the result of material prosperity and physical health. Thus, a person who does not give tithes and offerings not only misunderstands God’s priorities, he places his physical health and material prosperity at risk.
3B. My friend, there are many more intangibles, imponderables, and variables in life than you or I will ever be able to account for. Far too many to be able to scheme and connive for personal advantage. How wise it is, then, when a man or a woman simply bows to God in this area of life, recognizes that God works behind the scenes to control everything, and decides that the best course, the safe course, the wise course, is to simply do what God wants and cheerfully give Him His tithes and offerings.
4B. There are a number of people in our congregation who have learned the hard way what happens when a man or a woman tries to buck God by withholding tithes and offerings. They have discovered by hard experience that God gets His honor one way or the other. Sometimes it is a transmission. At other times it is an illness. Sometimes God doesn’t get His honor during the person’s lifetime. That is too bad. Better for the tightwad to have been dealt with in this lifetime than in the next.
2A. Next, THE WAY OF GIVING TITHES & OFFERINGS
In First Corinthians 16.2, Paul wrote, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” Since it is ridiculous to think of tithes being given on a different day of the week or place than offerings, this verse shows us a great deal about the Christian’s giving of both tithes and offerings to the cause of Christ.
1B. First, this verse shows us when tithes and offerings are to be given, on the first day of the week. Not that you can’t give tithes and offerings on another day of the week, but that it was customary in the Churches Paul planted for such giving to be done on a Sunday. So, following Paul’s practice, you should give your tithes and offerings every Sunday.
2B. Second, this verse shows us where tithes and offerings are to be given, to the local Church. As the Temple was the storehouse for the Old Testament saints leading up to Jesus’ day, so Calvary Road Baptist Church is the storehouse where our Church member’s tithes and all our Church member’s planned offerings should be given. This is the Biblical example and the Baptist practice for giving. You bring it in here and it is disbursed from here, exactly the way the Churches under Paul’s supervision did it; the Church at Philippi, the Church at Thessalonica, the Church at Berea, and the Church at Corinth.
3B. Third, it is the responsibility of each one of you to give tithes and offerings. Paul wrote, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store.” Thus, it is incumbent on you and on me, on each of us, to give our tithes and our offerings. Some rely on the generosity of others to support the Church’s ministry and carry on the work of reaching the lost. But how can such a person as that not be a spiritual free loader? How can God be pleased with such a person as that?
3A. Finally, THE WARNING CONCERNING TITHES & OFFERINGS
1B. Malachi 3.8-10: “8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse. . . .”
1C. We discover in Malachi 3.8 that a man who does not give God tithes and offerings is a man who robs God. One would suppose that it’s a dangerous thing to rob God, and one would suppose correctly.
2C. Verse 9 declares that the one who robs God is cursed with a curse for robbing Him. Indeed, such robbery was so bad in Malachi’s day that the entire nation is accused of robbing Him.
3C. Then, in verse 10, we see that tithes are to be placed into the storehouse.
4C. This passage stands as a warning to anyone who would consider the consequences of robbing God of His tithes and offerings. It is a dangerous thing to sin against God. It is a foolish thing to sin against Him by robbing Him.
2B. Let me conclude by asking you to consider Galatians 6.7: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
1C. The law of sowing and reaping can either be a great blessing or a great cursing. It can either lead to a wonderful future or a tragic future. The principle of sowing and reaping can either be made to work in your favor or will against your will work to your personal detriment.
2C. You will remember, from Proverbs 3.9, that you are directed to “Honour the LORD with thy substance.” That is, to do more than falsely honor God with cheap words, to honor God with your heart, to make sure your heart is committed to honoring God, you will give of your substance to Him. From Malachi 3.8 we can definitely say that the substance God wants is tithes and offerings above the tithe.
3C. So, what do you think your chances are of being truly and honestly honored by your children so long as you refuse to honor God? Oh, they may treat you nicely and speak kindly to you, but we learned in First Timothy 5 that honoring widows and honoring pastors involves cold, hard, cash in addition to kind words courtesy. How will they treat you when you are old, when you need help, when you need to call upon them to help you during your time of infirmity?
4C. If you do not honor God will God allow you to be honored? What says the law of sowing and reaping? Many may not see the connection between giving to God and how their children will treat them when they are old, or even while they are not yet old, but the connection is established in the Bible, you can be sure.
5C. Honor to whom honor is due is a Bible principle, and no one is more deserving of my honor and yours than God. Yet there are some who expect to be honored by their children, while they refuse to honor God. I submit to you that no one who refuses to honor God with tithes and offerings has any right to expect to be honored by his or her own children when they are grown and you are old.
6C. In this day of physician assisted suicides, of convalescent hospitals filled with people whose children neglect them and who are mistreated by uncaring staff, of attorneys who devote their entire careers to elder abuse cases, it strikes me as both foolish and dangerous for an aging person to trifle with God by refusing to give Him His tithes and offerings. One reason I give tithes and offerings to God? I do not want my daughter to abandon me in my old age, refusing to honor me because I refused to honor God.
1. This has been an informational sermon, designed to provide truth for you who seek to serve God, who seek to honor God, who seek to prepare for your own future.
2. I am convinced by my experiences in the ministry that a refusal to give God His tithes and offerings covers character flaws and defects which could be remedied by anyone who simply decided to give God His due.
3. The benefits of giving God His tithes and offerings may not be seen immediately, but they would be realized eventually, affecting even your relationship with your children in the years to come. You honor God and they will honor you.
4. My last words this morning are to you who are unconverted. And it is very likely that you are unconverted if you are not faithful in giving your tithes and offerings. Failure to tithe is labeled by God as robbery, and no thief will be granted entrance into God’s heaven, First Corinthians 6.10.
5. The love of money is the root of all evil. We see that in First Timothy 6.10. But notice what else we see in that verse: “which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” In other words, your love of money, which makes you too stingy to tithe and give offerings, is a covetousness, is a greed, that makes you err from the faith.
6. In short, refusal to give God His tithes and offerings shows you to be lost and will keep you from being saved. I do hope that you will someday be converted. But I, frankly, have no expectation of you getting converted so long as you refuse to do what is so clearly the will of God for your life, to honor Him with your substance.
 Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1988.
 Second Corinthians 8.1-6