Malachi: God says, "Show me the money"
The book, "Your Money or Your Life" is a kind of modern classic, the Bible of the voluntary simplicity movement. Though not written from a "Christian perspective" it challenges the prevailing cultural mores about materialism, and provokes us towards simpler living.
Yesterday's teaching (avialable online by Tuesday morning on the Bethany website) on tithing always seems to raise the same questions:
1. Isn't tithing just an Old Testament principle?
2. Is 10% the real number, or is it more because of the other taxes that were rolled in during Israel's theocracy, or less, precisely because it was a theocracy?
3. Is my tithing supposed to be of gross or net?
My response to all three questions is the same: If we are beginning to pick at this doctrine in these ways, we're closer to legalism than trying to capture the spirit of giving, and it was the spirit of giving that was at the heart of Malachi's complaint. On the other hand, it's important to see that one's inward attitude is reflected in our giving patterns. This is where the testimony of so many who have 'put God to the test' comes into play. Those who have been faithful to give, have found blessings!
I have, historically, found it difficult to teach on these things, because of the scandals and greed that have so often characterized the church. But I am increasingly convinced that to be silent in these matters is to be disobedient, as God is interested in transforming every area of lives. Perhaps no area needs transforming more than our relationship with money.