Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house. And thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need…… Then all nations will count you happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:10, 12
Brothers and Sisters,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ Jesus. What a joy it is to be in ministry with you! You are a faithful, caring, loving and thoughtful people, and I am learning so much from you about our context of ministry across the northern regions of California and Nevada and being disciples of Jesus Christ in this sacred land.
Thank you for the kindness of your welcome. For the gifts of flowers, delicious jams, regional nuts, cookies, crackers, soothing teas, fragrant candles, soaps and creams, maps so that I do not get lost, and lovely letters that have warmed my heart. Above all, thank you for your friendship. Thank you!
Having experienced your generous spirit, I was not surprised when I learned that you have moved from a system of apportionments to one of tithing. While I have always supported our apportionment system I am encouraged by your commitment to bring forth your connectional gifts from a biblical understanding and not a mathematical formula. I have tithed since I was a child, taught by my mother Rebecca who trusted God from the very core of her being. I do hope that as we tithe together we keep learning what scripture teaches us about tithing.
I love the passage in Malachi 3:10. God’s people find themselves in a less than faithful place and God speaks to them through the prophet Malachi. “Test me,” says God. God promises to bless them with such abundance that it will be like the very heaven opening its windows and pouring down upon them everything they need. All God asks of them is that they bring to God’s house 1/10th of what God has given them for the sustaining of ministry and those who have devoted themselves to leading God’s people. Do they trust God, or not?
Malachi is a book in the bible not often read, but it ministered to our ancestors in the faith and has a faithful word for us today. It is said that the people of Malachi’s day had little hope and little vision for the future. They had lost their king and thus their political independence. What they had not lost was their tendency towards sloth and sin. Their religious leaders seemed bored, the laity whined, husbands were unfaithful, and most were looking out only for themselves forgetting to extend any compassion much less justice to the widow, the orphan, or the down and out. They were in such a pathetic place in their lives that in biblical scholarship theirs is considered the day of small things.
Can’t we see why they lived in days of small things? It is where we all go when we do not trust God. Our human ability to on our own live days of greatness and big things is limited. Our God, however, is one of abundant mercy and grace who seeks to do great things through us; big things for the sake of this world that God loves.
I don’t believe for one minute that we the people of the California-Nevada Conference want to live in days of small things. I know that we want to be faithful to our God who desires to bless all that has been created by God’s own hand and wants us to join him in God’s mighty purposes. Stepping up to days of greatness and big things will take our bringing our tithe to the Lord our God and with our tithe, our commitment to serve God in every good way that pleases God.
If we read on to the 12th verse of this 3rd chapter of Malachi, the prophet says that if we are committed to the ways of God, among them tithing, God’s blessings upon us and our ministry will be so incredible that we will be amazed and everyone around us will come to say, “Look, how happy those people are. They live in a land of delight!” I’m counting on having moved to the land of delight because of God’s faithfulness and your faithful response! I’ll do my best to help you!
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño