In his message, Pastor Robert Morris, senior pastor at Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, told his congregation that God has asked us to give our tithes and offerings not because He needs money to support His work, but because it gives Him an opportunity to bless us.
Malachi 3 has been misunderstood for years, "even by me," Morris said in a recent message, titled "Don't Rob God."
We don't need to read it in the "old, legalistic way," he told the congregation, clarifying that he is not saying we rob God of money when we don't give the tithe to God, to whom it belongs.
"I personally don't think God needs our money," he explained, adding, that the passage means, "Don't rob God of an opportunity to bless you."
He then read verse 8: "Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?' In tithes and offerings."
The reason God came up with the idea of tithing is not to support the work for His kingdom, "He invented tithing for our benefit, as an opportunity to bless us," Morris stressed.
Then he read verses 9 and 10, which state, "'You are under a curse — your whole nation — because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'"
The pastor said the reason why the Gateway church is fed with good spiritual food is because the congregation gives their tithes.
Morris then read verses 11 and 12: "'I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,' says the Lord Almighty. 'Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,' says the Lord Almighty."
In the passage, God doesn't say, "for Kingdom's sake," but "for your sake," he pointed out.
There are three categories of blessings in the Bible, he shared.
The pastor read Joshua 6:18, "And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord."
Tithing is the principle of putting God first because it is the first 10 percent of your income, Morris explained, saying that bringing the first part of the income gives God an opportunity to bless us.
The tithe is consecrated when it comes to the local church, but a curse when it remain with us, the pastor stated.
The pastor quoted verse 8 again, as it mentions "tithes and offerings."
The tithe belongs to God, but offerings do not "belong" to Him in one sense, though everything is His, Morris said, adding that the words "free will" are often used before "offerings."
So how do we rob God by not giving offerings? That's because we rob Him of an opportunity to bless us, he said. "That's the only way this passage makes sense."
Three, sacrificial offerings.
There are many examples of people giving sacrificial offerings in the Bible, including that of King David in the Old Testament and the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume in the New Testament, the pastor said.
The biggest sacrificial offering was God giving His Son Jesus for us, he added.
In conclusion, Pastor Morris read Mark 12:41-44, "Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.'"
The pastor also shared, for the first time with his congregation, that he has long been giving $100 bills to people in church and outside who might need money. Recently, when he told the congregation in a message that a "man in the church" gives money this way, without telling them that it was he himself, his daughter asked him later at the dinner table if he's the man. Then she said she wanted to be like her dad.
That means a lot to a dad, Pastor Morris said, suggesting that that's how God has blessed him in return.