No Time for Robbing God
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”
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It was another first Sunday, the biggest offering day of each month. Bishop Akron knew that, and although he, at the advice of one of his preacher friends, purposefully never preached on tithing and giving an extra offering ‘to show God how much you love Him’, he appointed Deacon Selera to ‘promote’ the giving of tithes and offerings just before and sometimes after the offertory prayer.
“We have a giving people. Firmly but lovingly encourage them to give more than the required ten percent and to do it cheerfully as God loves a cheerful giver. Make sure you emphasize that verse,” Bishop Akron said to Deacon Selera. “Let them know that they are not to limit themselves to just ten percent. Giving more than ten percent shows their love for God.”
“I still don’t know why you won’t do this, Bishop. I still believe the people will respond to you more eagerly than they will to me,” Deacon Selera said. “Or better yet, get Deacon Conley to do it. He’s the head deacon.”
Bishop Akron chuckled. “No, brother. I don’t want the people to think even for a minute that I’m a money lover or that I am greedy for their money or that I am using their tithe for my personal needs. I don’t want any of them to think their tithe bought me my new Lincoln. Or that their tithe bought my wife the new dresses she keeps turning up in. Or that it is keeping the electricity on in my house. Make sure you tell them that, and remind them that I am on salary like all the other staff members here.”
“I’ll do that.”
“Plus, you have the personality for it. You have a way of letting them feel at ease giving up something that for whatever reason is hard to part with,” Bishop Akron said. “Give them some examples of people who refused to tithe and how God dealt with them.”
“I don’t know of any, Bishop. I have always tithed faithfully so I have had no run-ins with God along those lines,” Deacon Selera said.
“Well, I know a few. Some have had car troubles and thus have had to spend that stolen tithe at the mechanic’s shop. Some have had to replace broken down appliances with stolen tithe money. Some have had to put their stolen tithe into unexpected hospital bills, or even into paying funeral expenses for a loved one. I’ve seen it time and time again. Just let them know God is going to get His tithe one way or another. Either they give it to Him willingly or He will have to take it by force by allowing some mishap in their lives. Address it from that standpoint. You know how to doctor it up and pretty it up and still let them see the seriousness of it,” Bishop Akron said.
Deacon Selera laughed. “I will. I guess that’s my gift to the body of Christ: stirring the people up to give back to God. Just one thing: Is there another verse I can use instead of Malachi chapter three? That is so tired and overused in this context. I think they will welcome new verses.”
“Let me see here,” Bishop Akron said, reaching for his Bible concordance. “Acts 20:35—’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Luke 6:38—’Give, and it shall be given back to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal shall be measured to you again.’ With that one you can tell them that if they give a small portion they will be rewarded small; but if they give in abundance they will be rewarded abundantly.”
“Alright,” Deacon Selera said.
“Matthew 10:8—’Freely ye have received, freely give.’ Tell them that if they give willingly God will give back to them willingly.”
“Here’s the perfect example,” Bishop Akron said. “Use the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter five. They sold their land and were supposed to give all of the money to the disciples for the work of the ministry. Instead, they both conspired together to keep back part of the money and tell the disciples that what they were giving was the full amount. Peter, filled with the Spirit of God, knew that something was amiss, and he questioned them about it. Well, they lied and said that what they had given was the full amount, and they immediately fell down dead. Read it for yourself. That would be the perfect example to share with the people. It ought to put a holy fear within them and make them think twice about robbing God and then come pretending—lying is really what it is—that what they are depositing into the offering plate is the ‘full amount’.”
Deacon Selera chuckled. “Yes, that ought to put a lot of fear into them,” he said. “Can you have the secretary print those out for me so I can look them over before the services along with any other verses or examples in scripture you come across?”
“Sure,” Bishop Akron said as he called his secretary into his office.
After instructing her, and after she had returned to her desk, Deacon Selera said, “Bishop Akron, I’ve been turning over in my mind this verse in Matthew chapter five that says, ‘Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave thy gift before the altar, and go and be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift.’ Don’t you think that verse might work as well?”
“Mmm,” Bishop Akron said thoughtfully. “I would hold off on sharing that verse as they might interpret it incorrectly.”
“I don’t see how they could interpret it incorrectly,” Deacon Selera said. “It says to leave your gift and go and make amends with your brother or whoever you have offended. To me, that would move me to do right if for no other reason so that God can accept my gift and bless me even more.”
“I see your point. But hold off on that verse and let me do some more study on it. Some may refuse to get things right with a brother or sister even though they know that their not doing so will cause God to not accept their gift. With that mentality, they will more than likely lean towards not giving at all. We don’t want to do anything that will discourage them from giving,” Bishop Akron said. “In fact, those verses that I gave you, you can stretch them out over the next few weeks. Make it a verse of the month situation so the verses can sink into their hearts.”
“Okay, Pastor. I’ll get on it right away.”
There was a knock on the door. It was the secretary returning with a printed copy of the verses.
“Thank you, Tanya,” Bishop Akron said.
“Thanks, Bishop Akron,” Deacon Selera said as Bishop Akron handed him the sheet of paper. “I’ll see you at the pulpit.”
“Alright, my brother.”
After Deacon Selera closed the door, Bishop Akron sighed. He knew very well what Deacon Selera was asking, but he could not risk the people withholding their tithes and offering which had been pouring in in abundance. I wonder what Prophet Malcolm would say about tithing in general and about that verse in particular. I can’t risk asking him.