Robert Morris — Don't Rob God
I'm going to preach a message that when I say the title you're going to think you've heard it before. In other words, not this message, but you've heard someone preach on this before, but I've never shared what I'm going to share, and I am going to talk some about giving, but I preached on giving for 30 years, and I've never seen in this famous passage, Malachi 3, what I'm going to share with you this weekend. So, the title of the message is "Don't Rob God".
The only thing is that for the first time in my life this last weekend I saw this passage opposite of what we think it means. Opposite. I believe that this passage in Malachi has been misunderstood for years even by me, and I've got to tell you all — I was just going to read it to you and then tell you, but I've got to tell you so you can see it as we read the passage and not think about the old legalistic way that it's presented many times. When I say don't rob God I don't mean by you keep your tithe and your tithe belongs to Him and so you're robbing God of money. I actually don't think that's what this mean. I personally don't think that God needs our money. Do you? I don't think He does.
Here's what I think He's trying to say, Malachi 3, and this is what I'm saying in this message, and you could even put it after the three words don't rob God if you want. Don't rob God of an opportunity to bless you. I actually think that that's what He's saying in Malachi 3. I think he's saying you are robbing me of the opportunity to bless you. I would like to bless you. I would like to open the windows of heaven over you and pour a blessing on you. I'd like to rebuke the devourer for you, but because you won't do it my way, you're robbing me of a blessing.
So, let's read it. Malachi 3:8, "Will a man rob God"? Now, if we think about it, just see. The way I'm saying it is will a man rob God of an opportunity to bless him. "Yet you have robbed me," now just think about it, "of many opportunities to bless you". Now, I'm just saying that I think that's what this means, "but you say in what way have we robbed you of opportunities to bless us? In tithes and offerings". In other words, the whole reason God came up with a concept of tithing was not to support the work of His kingdom because He could've sent ravens to do that. He could have brought water out of a rock. He could've brought manna from heaven and had quail fly in and land right in their laps. So, God did not invent tithing to support His work. He did not invent tithing for His benefit. He invented tithing for our benefit as an opportunity to bless us.
So, because you haven't given me His offerings, watch the next verse, Verse 9, "you're cursed with a curse". You're under a curse instead of a blessing, and I don't want you to be. For you've robbed me," now again, let's think about it this way, "of opportunities to bless you". You've robbed me. Even this whole nation. "Bring all the tithes into the store house, watch this, that there may be food in my house".
I just want to ask you a question. Just stop just for a moment. One of the things that we love about Gateway Church and about many other great churches around the country is that we're fed the word of God. Right? I mean, God chose me and other pastors of great churches, revelation from His word, and it's not a dry, boring, dull sermon. Right? It's very exciting and some of the best we've ever heard, but it's — no, no, I don't mean it that way. I really don't mean it that way. I'm just joking with you, but it's revelation. Right? What we want to hear is God's word, and we want to hear that touch of the Holy Spirit on it like last weekend and say, wow, I've never seen it that way. Okay. I believe one of the reasons that we have such great food in Gateway Church is because we have a lot of tithers.
He says, "Bring the tithe into the storehouse," the storehouse always refers to the local church, "that there may be food in my house". And I'm going to say it another way, that I may bless you. It's another opportunity for me to bless you and then He says this, "and try," and the word try means prove, the way you would prove metal, test it, "and test me in this says the Lord of host if I would open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing there would not be room enough to receive it". In other words, you'll be able to give more, "and I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes".
Those three words helped convince me that this is what God was saying because He was saying you've robbed me, and He's not saying that He's hurting and He's running out of gold for His streets in heaven. He's saying you're robbing me of a blessing, and He says this, "and to prove it, I will rebuke the devourer". He doesn't say for the kingdom's sake. He says for your sake. That's a blessing. "I'll rebuke the devourer for your sakes so that He will not destroy the fruit of your ground nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field". The vine would represent your business, whatever business you're in. "It won't fail to bear that fruit says the Lord of hosts, and all nations will call you blessed. For you will be a delightful land says the Lord of hosts". Another way to say it according to what I'm saying is because you gave me opportunities to bless you.
Years ago, when I was learning about giving, you know, Debbie and I started learning about giving in probably my early 20s. I got saved at 19, and we began to give extravagantly, and I found great joy in giving, and I wasn't giving to get. I was just giving to help, but the more I gave, the more God gave me so that I could give more, and I've told you this before. Debbie and I came to a place where we were giving 70% of our income to the kingdom. So, we were just giving, giving, giving. So, we were in a life group. I was not a pastor. I wasn't an associate pastor. I was not an evangelist. I was not in ministry, vocational ministry, not in vocational ministry at all, in a life group, and one of the couples talked about that they were about to go on a mission trip, short-term mission trip, and they said we just want everyone to pray.
Well, I got such joy in giving, so I said, "Do you have all the finances that you need for the short-term mission trip"? They said, "Well, we're a little short. If you all could pray about that too". So, I said, "Well, how short are you? How much do you need"? And they said, "$800". So, I knew immediately. I said, "I'll take care of that". So afterwards, I went out to the car, got my checkbook, wrote a check for $800, they came out, we stood and talked for a while, and I gave them the check. I got in the car, and this is what I felt like the Lord said to me. I felt like the Lord said to me, "I am so mad at you right now I could spit". And it wasn't the good kind of spit that heals your eyes. It was the spit you out of my mouth type of spit, you know, and I was shocked.
I said, "God, what do you mean? The couple needed $800. I gave them $800. What's your deal"? You know what He said to me? And this is what He reminded me of this week, this week. I've never shared about Malachi 3 like I'm sharing this week. I've never shared this before. Here's what He said to me years ago when I gave that couple that money. He said, "You robbed me of an opportunity to bless the other couples in the group". He said, "I had it all planned out. I was going to speak to you, and you were actually going to give half of it; $400. One couple was going to give $50, and that would have been a sacrifice for them. One couple was going to give $100. One couple was going to give $200 or $100".
Whatever it was, I don't remember the amounts now, but He said, "I had it all planned out". And He said, "I had it all planned out how I was going to bless them, and you robbed me of the opportunity to bless them". And I didn't even relate it to Malachi 3, but what I realized from that moment on was that I don't give just because I have the resources. I give when God speaks, and I give what God speaks. And I give what God speaks.
So, there are three opportunities of blessing that I see in Scripture. All right? Three categories of opportunity. So, here's the first one: tithes. I believe that when we tithe we give God the opportunity to bless us. Joshua 6 is when they're going into the Promised Land, and it's the first city, and it's Jericho. In verses 18 and 19 it says, "And you by all means of staying from the accursed things". I want you to notice this word cursed. It says accursed. Same thing as cursed. "Lest you become accursed," in other words, there'll be a curse on you when you take of the accursed things and make the camp of Israel a curse".
I think He's trying to say there's a curse if you do this, "and you trouble it, but all the silver and gold and vessels of bronze and iron are consecrated," cursed, consecrated. That simply means set apart, set aside, "to the house of the Lord. They shall come into the treasury of the Lord". Okay. He's referring to the tithe because they go to the house of the tithe because the tithe is always the first 10%, not the last 10%. It doesn't take faith to give the last 10%. It takes faith to give the first 10%. It also states that we put God first. It's the principle of first that I've preached to you many times. The first born represents this. The first fruits represent this. Jesus is God's first born, and He's God's first fruit, and so Jesus is God's tithe. He gave Jesus before we repented. He gave Jesus hoping that we would then come to Him and let Him bless us.
So, this is what the tithe is. So, that's what He's saying here. He's saying give me an opportunity to bless you. So, it's Jericho because it was the first city in the Promised Land and when they took of what belonged to God, they also took the opportunity away from God to bless them, and they lost the next battle, but what He was saying was if you give me the first, then it gives me an opportunity to bless you, and you have that opportunity every time you get paid. Are you going to give God the opportunity to bless the 90%? And you need to hear something. I know this is strong. It's consecrated when it's brought to the house of the Lord and it's cursed if it stays in your tent and that's what happened to Achan.
Years ago, I was preaching on the tithe and there was a single mom in our church that said, "You know, I just began getting convicted even though I have limited income and am a single parent, but I'm going to tithe. I'm going to begin giving God the first". And so, she came and brought her checkbook to church with her. At the end of the service, she went to write the check. She made $1.000 that week. She went to write a check for $100, and before she put the amount in, the Lord said to her, "Make it $120". And she was like, "God, this is a stretch". He said, "Yeah, but the tithe is $100, but I want you to give an offering also. I want you to trust me. Just watch what I do".
So, she wrote it for $120, put it in the box. She's leaving, and a man — there's a man in our church that carries one hundred-dollar bills in his wallet to give away. Been doing it for years. So, he feels like the Lord says, "You go to that woman and give her a one hundred-dollar bill". So, he pulls his wallet out and when he pulls the hundred out, there's a 20 stuck to it. He starts to put the 20 back in, and the Lord says, "No, give her the 20 also". And so, he says, "Lord, I don't give $120 to people. I give one hundred-dollar bills to people. It's kind of my thing. That's what I do". And the Lord said, "No, you obey. That's your thing. That's what you do. So, he says to her, "Ma'am, I have to let you know for years I've given people one hundred-dollar bills when God tells me. God spoke to me, but He also told me to add a $20 to it". Now, what do you think that did for that single mom, and you will never ever convince her that wasn't God. As soon as she writes a check for $120, a guy that gives $100 gives $120. You follow me? So, give God an opportunity to bless you in your tithing.
Here's number two: offerings. Look back at Malachi 3 there, Verse 8. "Will a man rob God, yet you've robbed me, but you say in what way have we robbed you in tithes and offerings". Now, look at me for a moment. The tithe belongs to God. Leviticus 27 says, "And all the tithe of the land, whether the seed of the land or the fruit of the tree is the Lord's". Is the Lord's. In Hebrew, that means belongs to God. He's God's property. It is holy or set apart to the Lord. Okay? So, the tithe belongs to God. I know God owns it all, but He set apart that. He has set it apart. That's why there's a two-fold robbing here when you take what doesn't belong to you, but I've never been able to reconcile these two words. It says, "You've robbed me, and they said in what way". His answer was, "in tithes and offerings".
Okay. How do you rob God in offerings when they don't belong to Him? I know it all belongs to Him, but we return the tithe, and we give free will offerings, and God even uses the word free will several times before you see the word offering, you'll see the word free will. Have the people bring a free will offering. Okay. You explain to me how you rob God in offerings, and I'll tell you how, and I saw it the first time this last week. The only way you could rob Him is if you robbed Him of a blessing, of an opportunity to bless you. That's the only way this passage makes sense. When God put the two words on there, "and offerings". It makes sense. You've robbed me of opportunities to bless you. How have we robbed you? Well, one of the tithes, but also offerings because if you give an offering over and above your tithe, it's another opportunity for me to bless you. Are you all following me?
You may not know this, but this is really good preaching. This is good. Please hear me. I have no reason to preach to you about giving. I have none. You say, well, when we give the church can expand. Okay. I don't want to expand unless God wants us to expand. I only want to do what God wants us to, and I preached on giving for years with one motive in my heart and that's to help you. I'm telling you, and many, many people would confirm what I'm saying. When you give, you give God an opportunity to bless you.
So, tithes, offerings, and here's number three: sacrificial offerings. Now, there are many, many sacrificial offerings in Scripture. David gave a very sacrificial offering to build a temple for Solomon to build a temple. David set aside if you take it to the valuation of today, most people say about $21 billion is what he gave. That's a lot even for a king. Solomon, his son, when he was setting to be the king, it was tradition to offer one bull. He sacrificed 1.000 bulls. The woman who anointed Jesus right before He was crucified, and Jesus said she anointed my body for burial, but she did it with one year's wage of perfume. That's a sacrificial offering, a year's wage. You go through just — here's one. Abraham willing to offer his son. That's a sacrifice, and of course, God stopped him because he didn't require something like that, but he tested his heart, and he gave God an opportunity to bless him.
Here's the greatest sacrificial offering: God offered His Son. But let me show you one sacrificial offering, Mark 12 if you're there, that you might not think about as a sacrificial offering. You might not have remembered it, but Mark 12:41-44, "Now, Jesus sat opposite the treasury". That's the offering box, "and saw how the people put money into the treasury". I just want you to notice that he was watching how they did it. He wasn't as concerned with how much. He's watching how. He's watching the attitude of the heart, "and many who were reach put in much," and they should. Today, when you make a commitment you should give according to your ability. It should be a sacrifice. "Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites which make a quadrant".
Okay, a mite is a Jewish penny. Two mites make a quadrant which is a Roman penny. So, that explains that 'cause we don't use mites and quadrants today. So, she gave two Jewish pennies which two Jewish pennies equal one Roman penny. So, he called his disciples to himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury. For they put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had, her whole livelihood". That's a sacrificial offering.
Now, here's something I was thinking about. I mean, I just go this revelation this week that when we give, it's an opportunity. It gives God an opportunity to bless us. Now, I want to tell you the end of a story. I think it was year ago. It might've been two, but I shared the story about the single mom that gave the $100 tithe and the man in our church that gives hundred-dollar bills, and he went to her in the parking lot and gave her $120. I've already shared that with you, but when I shared that the last time I shared it, I need to let you know something. I said a man in our church gives hundred dollar bills away and he's done this for about 30 years now. Okay. I'm the man.
So, I didn't lie to you 'cause I'm a man in our church. Okay? But when I shared that, I didn't want to say, I give hundred-dollar bills, and I've been doing this for a long time. I didn't want to say that. I just shared the story. So, I'm the one that gave the single mom the $100 plus the $20. So, I shared that with you a year or two ago in a message. On that Sunday, we were having family dinner. We had everyone over at the house and when my daughter got there, she said, "Can I talk to you for a minute"? And I said, "Sure".
And so, we went in my office, and she was crying and she said, "You're the man, aren't you"? And I said, "What do you mean"? And she said, "You're the man that you told the story about today, aren't you? You're the man that gives hundred-dollar bills away". And I said, "Why do you say that"? She said, "Because when you told that story today, I was flooded with memories from my childhood. Times that there'd be the man on the side of the street with the will-work-for-food sign, and you would pull the car over and go over and talk to him, but today," she said, "I could see that you always gave them something, and I remember all the times that you went back into restaurants and talked to the waitress, and we'd say to mom sitting in the car, what's dad doing? And she'd say, he's just sharing the Lord because I told her don't tell anybody about this. Just don't tell anyone".
She said, "Dad, I had memory after memory growing up of you giving hundred-dollar bills to people. You're the man, aren't you"? And I said, "Yes, sugar, I'm the man". And my daughter looked at me and said, "I want to be like you daddy. I want to be like you". That's worth it all. When your kids, all three of my kids love God, serve God. That's worth it. I'm telling you, God wants to bless you in more ways than just money, but you're going to need to give Him an opportunity to bless you. It is so fun to be a giver, and our children see it when we have that giving nature. I believe we're the most like God when we give, and here's what I mean by that. Not just giving money, but out tithe or our prayers or our compassion, our concern for someone. For God so loved the world that He gave, and what's amazing about God is He blesses us when we give.
As I said in this message, don't rob God of the opportunity to bless you. So, tithe to your local church, give offerings over and above, and I want to take a moment to say thank you to those of you who give to our ministry to allow us to take the Gospel all over the world. Thank you for being a giver, and if you've never tithed, if you've never given offerings, I want to encourage you to step out this week and start giving as the Holy Spirit leads you and watch God, watch God open the windows of heaven and pour out blessing and it says so much that you can't receive it what that simply means is not that you're going to get rich, but so that you'll have enough for your family and enough to bless others as well. Thank you for being givers. Thank you for being lovers of people. I love you guys so much.