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A Thought For Your Christian Journey:

 

The Hand Of Our Heavenly Father

Hebrews 12.11 

I recently received a forwarded email from a concerned Church member about tithing and benevolence.  This dear member stated that if a person or family has a need, especially medical and financial, that we should help them whether they have been tithing or not.  Certainly, financial and medical needs, when combined, are especially hard and trying.  These trying situations cause the worst kind of anxiety in us all.  Most of us have been in these situations in the past and remember what they have been like.  I must say from personal experience that they seemed at the time to be the worst of times. 

It is clear from our benevolence policy that our Ministry Team is tasked with discerning whether members in need have been faithfully tithing or not.  Some folks will think that this is an inappropriate violation of the privacy of members of our Church.  However, there is a clear and distinct biblical reason for this determination. As a matter of fact the financial stewardship of individual Church members should be considered for service in a number of Church leadership positions, as clearly directed by the Bible. 

Let me say that as the pastor of our Church I do not seek to know from week to week who does or does not give their tithes and offerings.  This is information that I merely choose not to study. 

So why should the Ministry Team (and other teams) be even remotely concerned about tithes and offerings? 

The Bible teaches that there are a number of reasons why God might bring chastisement into a Christian’s life.  For instance: 

        The most obvious and presumed reason is for presumptuous sin. 

1 Corinthians 5:1-6 1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

This scripture clearly reveals that a child of God who resists their Heavenly Father’s correction can be brought to death for their continuous and presumptuous sin.  This is what John wrote about when he said: 

1 John 5:16 16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

There is no sin that needs to bring a child of God to the point of death.  All that a child of God needs to do with their sin in confess it and turn from it and God will forgive it and restore them. 

1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

        One sin that is particularly addressed in scripture is the failure to obey God in the tithe.  Malachi reveals: 

Malachi 3:7-12 7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? 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, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

Haggai, when speaking of the neglect of God’s house and the selfishness of God people wrote:

Haggai 1:5-7 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

Clearly, from these scriptures and others we discover that there are consequences, clearly revealed in scripture, for failing to be obedient in our tithes and offerings.  God’s people will be found putting their money into bags with holes in them if they neglect God’s clear direction in the area of tithes and offerings.  Hence the often heard statement of Godly Preachers from past years, but rarely in our day, “You Can’t Afford Not To Tithe” becomes exceedingly clear. 

A Child of God who, for whatever reason, fails to tithe will find themselves devoured, the fruit of their ground destroyed, despised of all nations, and destitute; all of which are just the opposite of the blessings found for obedience in tithing in Malachi’s revelation.  Failing to tithe will bring the clearly revealed discipline of God into an individual’s life and family.  The problem in our contemporary culture is that God’s people would rather listen to the philosophies of deceiving men and women, rather than be obedient to the written Word of God.

        God Chastises His Children – Clearly the Bible reveals that when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ we become the children of God (John 1.12, Praise be to God).  Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to take us just as we are, but loves us too much to leave us as we are.  Hence, as any loving father would do, our heavenly father begins to nurture and grow us.  He uses all the usual methods to mature us, including chastisement.  The Bible reveals: 

Hebrews 12:4-13 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Our heavenly Father does not seek to correct us with chastisement because He hates us, instead He corrects us because He loves us.  Hence, when we are being disobedient we must expect that God is going to correct us.  It is a very real expression of His love for us.  Christians must resist the tendency to ignorantly deny those truths clearly revealed in God’s Word.  One of the things a teenager or child will do to try and avoid chastisement is fain ignorance.  They will hang on to little perceived loop holes in their parent’s directions to try and get away with not doing what they know was their parent’s clear intension all along.  This is what I find Christians trying to do with the sin in their life, and failing to tithe is clearly disobedience to God.  But it will never work, God knows what He has already revealed, and immature expressions will not defer His chastisement.  

The mature thing to do is just to obey God’s revealed written Word. 

        All trials are not a form of chastisement.  We know that not every financial, physical or emotional trial is a judgment or chastisement from God.  If you experience a trial, examine yourself and your life.  If you do not discover a clear sin, then you can rest in the confidence of knowing that your Heavenly Father is molding you or molding someone else through you.  You can rest, even in the midst of your trial in knowing that: 

Romans 8:28  . . . all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

You are merely being used to fulfill the perfect, good, and acceptable will of God (Rom 12.1-2).  Even in the midst of your pain, suffering, and trials you can rest and know a supernatural joy because you have kept your integrity in the sight of God and you are being used gloriously by Him. 

The problem with many Christians in our day is that they fail to examine themselves.  They want to claim the glorious usage of God, but refuse to honestly examine themselves for rebelliousness in their lives.  Hence, many are living under chastisement, and walking in the dark regions of willful ignorance because of their failure to repent and reconcile themselves with God and His revealed will, as found written in the Bible. 

        How this applies to the Church.  When the Church has members that are walking in the midst of financial and physical hardship the Church is called upon to examine each situation under the light of the revealed Word of God. 

If a Church member is living in rebellious and open sin, then the Church is called upon to correct that Church member (1 Cor 5; Matt 18.15-20).  Part of the Churches role in the lives of its members is correction in holiness and righteousness: 

1 Timothy 5:20 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

2 Timothy 4:2 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

When we as a Church just blindly give to relieve the financial distress of our members that are living in rebellion toward God’s clear direction concerning tithes and offerings, then we will find ourselves wrestling with the supernatural hand and influence of our Heavenly Father.  We can not just ignore what God has clearly reveled in His written Word.  Hence, our Ministry Team, in good stewardship, must carefully examine what we clearly know about a Church member’s life and how it compares to God’s revealed Word.  It seems hard and some may even think it’s a cold policy, but in respect to Scripture is it deeply spiritual and even required.

This does not mean that we just ignore the hurts and needs of these members.  Our policy recognizes that it takes time to make these deeply maturing adjustments, and therefore we have provided in our policy to still help our members in need, but to help them in a structured and nurturing way. 

Yes, we want to help our members, our dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  But at the same time we must be careful to help them in a way that does not try to wrestle against the work that our Heavenly Father is doing in their life.  We must hear what God told us through James when he penned:

James 1:1-4 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Allowing patience to have her perfect work, allowing God to correct His children is possibly one of the hardest things for the people of His Church to do.  We often just want to bail people out.  With our actions and choices there come rewards and repercussions.  We love the rewards, and often resist the repercussions.  We in the Church need to let God do His work in the lives of His people.

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