December 15, 2010

Revival, Reformation, . . . and Tithing

It’s an odd contrast: on one hand, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is praying—and rightly so—for revival and reformation. At the same time, during the North American Division year-end meeting, several conference presidents went to the microphone and reported a decrease in tithe returns. A difficult economy was blamed, and not without reason.
Is there a connection between the two? God seems to think so. He pronounced a severe sentence upon ancient Israel: “‘So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Mal. 3:5, TNIV).*
In response to the people’s asking God how they were to repent (verse 7), the Lord said they should stop robbing Him “in tithes and offerings” (verse 8). Then came the famous promise of verse 10: “Test me in this.” Those who don’t fear God don’t tithe, with the implication that not fearing God will block His blessings.
It is my sincere belief that if every Seventh-day Adventist in the North American Division were to return a faithful tithe, we would end up with tremendous resources to finish the work, and serve our fellow believers. I believe the latter rain would more quickly fall.
Who says that? Ellen G. White does: “One reason why there is so great a dearth of the Spirit of God is that so many are robbing God” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 734).
Pastors, elders, perhaps you need to tell your people this, directly and often. Church members, it may be time to ask your leaders for stewardship teaching and direction.
Sisters, brothers, shall we now “test” God’s promise?
Mark A. Kellner is news editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published December 16, 2010.