GIVING GOD'S SHARE
Scripture: Malachi 3:1–18
Memory verse: Malachi 3:10
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (local church)."
Explain that we might not always receive God’s blessing back in the form of money. His blessings might come in the form of good health, friends, or provisions. Whatever God uses, we will surely receive His help as long as we are faithful in our giving. We can never out-give God.
Hearing God’s Word
The people of Judah discovered through the prophet Malachi how generous God is. He created the universe. He owns everything. He wants to give to His people and bless those who serve Him.
Who Was Malachi?
The prophet Malachi taught the people of Judah about tithing. We know very little about Malachi. We do know that his name means “messenger.” It is very possible that Malachi is not the prophet’s real name. Malachi may be his title just as you might call your minister “Pastor.”
Malachi prophesied shortly after Haggai. This was after God’s people were released from their captivity in Babylon. When they returned to their homeland, they expected to become prosperous again. However, they had encountered nothing but trouble. The prophet Haggai encouraged the people to get their priorities straight, and indeed they did for a while. The temple was rebuilt and a better life in Judah was beginning to be established. But, as the people were noted for doing, they began to drift away again from serving God. They started living for their own interests and pleasures rather than doing the things God wanted.
Once again, God sent a prophet to correct their thinking. Through Malachi God first assured them of His love. Then He had Malachi explain to them the reason for their current troubles. What was it? (Let volunteers read Malachi 3:5–9, 13–15.)
God does not change His mind with the seasons. He does not decide to do something one day, and then go the opposite direction the next. What God says stands. His displeasure with sin is the same today as it was in Malachi’s day. Malachi reminded the people of this fact. He told them they were just like their forefathers down through the ages. They had strayed away from God’s laws and had not bothered to keep them. However, He said if they would return to Him and do what was right, He would return to them and bless them. Then God said something that shocked the people. He told the people they were robbing Him.
The people could not believe their ears. “How do we rob You?” they asked.
God’s answer was simple, “In tithes and offerings,” He replied.
The whole nation was being punished because they were robbing God by not paying their tithes and offerings. They were no better than common thieves because they were using God’s portion for themselves. (Instruct a student to reread Malachi 3:9.)
Then God promised something wonderful. (Ask a student to read Malachi 3:10.) Part off this verse is this week’s memory verse. (Repeat the verse with the students several times.)
The Purpose of Tithes
According to Malachi, the purpose of tithes was to provide support for the priests, or ministers, who took care of God’s house. Tithing shows we belong to God. If the people would take care of God’s work, then God would take care of them. He would bless them abundantly.
Malachi said God would throw open His windows, the windows of heaven, and empty out His blessings on those who remembered Him with their tithes. At the time, the people of Judah were plagued by drought. This promise of God was especially meaningful to them. They wanted God to cause it to rain. But this promise means even more than that. God was promising to take care of them and provide whatever they needed, whether it be rain, food, health, or other provisions. They would not have room enough to receive all His blessings. Even the land of the tithers would be blessed when the people began to give God what belonged to Him. (Ask a student to read Malachi 3:11.)
Malachi’s Message for Today
Ask: “What does Malachi’s message mean to us today?” (Allow response.)
God’s plan for taking care of His house and His ministers during the time of Malachi is still His plan today. In Bible days the people gave a tenth of their crops to God through the priests who worked in the temple. Today we give a tenth of our income to God by giving it to His Church. The word tithe simply means “tenth.” Our tithes are one-tenth of the money we earn or receive.
When the pastor collects the offering in church, he usually says, “Now we will receive our tithes and offerings.”
Ask: What is the difference between tithes and offerings?” (Allow discussion.)
God instructs all of us to give a tenth of our income to Him by giving it to the local church we attend. The tithes are used to pay the pastor’s salary and the expenses of the church. An offering is the money we give in addition to our one-tenth tithe. An offering can be given to various ministries of the church such as missions, a building program, or for a guest speaker.
Another thing that is still true today is God’s promise to tithers. God still blesses those who pay their tithes in obedience to His Word. However, if we neglect tithing, we cannot expect God’s provisions.
You do not have to wait until you are an adult to begin to tithe. Perhaps you earn money now. You can begin tithing on the money you receive.
God could have required that each person give a fixed amount of money. For example, He could have told each person to give a certain amount of money to His work each year. Instead, God asks us to return to Him a tithe—a tenth of what we receive. That way, everyone can afford to pay tithe. Everyone can obey God in this and receive His blessings.
What Tithing Does Not Do
Tithing is a practice commanded by God, just as honouring our parents and not stealing are His commandments. God promises to provide for those who tithe. However, there are two things tithing does not do. Tithing is not a means to buy God’s favour. We cannot think that if we pay our tithes, God will make us rich or give us everything we want. That is giving with a wrong attitude. The purpose of paying tithes is to honour God by giving to Him part of what rightfully belongs to Him.
Tithing also does not give us eternal life. There is only one way to receive salvation. That is by accepting Jesus as Saviour. We cannot earn salvation just by paying our tithe. We need a personal relationship with Jesus. Our repentance and trust in Jesus is what gets us into heaven, not our money. Once we have received salvation, we can then take our place in God’s family by obeying His command to pay our tithes.
Tithing is Important
Have you become a child of God? If you have, you need to begin to give back to God what belongs to Him. God has given us the promise of meeting our needs if we will honour Him with our obedience. Although this lesson focuses on tithing our money, the principle is true of other gifts and talents God has given us. Are you giving God what rightfully belongs to Him?
Accepting God’s Word
Remind the students that tithing on any amount of money could never buy our salvation. Only Jesus, by living a sinless life and dying on the cross for our sins, could make salvation possible. When we are sorry for the wrong things we have done, we can ask Jesus to forgive us and be our Saviour. Pray with each student who wants to receive salvation. Then instruct them in the basics of Christian living and encourage them to share about their decision for Jesus with someone this week.
Our Father, we approach the throne of grace in behalf of one hundred million Muslim people who dwell on the coastal rim of the African continent. We desire to especially focus our intercession on the Makonde people located on the southeast coast of that great continent.
Although physically separated from them by thousands of miles, we are grateful that prayer has no bounds, nor does God’s love. The Creator of the universe has declared His desire that none be lost, but that all men would come to repentance. Surely then, Lord, the Makonde people are included in your vast love that encompasses every person on this planet.
When our Saviour walked this earth he instructed us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that labourers might be thrust forth into the fields. We therefore would ask that a portion of these labourers would choose to labour among the Makonde people.
May the Holy Spirit call, empower, and give success to these who will be so chosen. O Lord, send a mighty revival to the Makonde!
In the Name of the world’s only Saviour, Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Remember: GIVING GOD’S SHARE
Memory verse: Malachi 3:10
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (local church)."
1. God wants to bless those who serve Him.
2. God instructs all believers to give a tenth of their income to Him.
3. Tithing shows we belong to God.
Pray for an Anointing of the Holy Spirit on Messengers to the Makonde.
Study 15 | All Peoples/The Prophets | africaatts.org/go-teach