Stealing from God
Lesson 21

The rich and beautiful city of Pompeii, situated at the base of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy was a trade center of ancient Rome. It was a favorite resort for wealthy Romans until A.D. 79 when Mt. Vesuvius underwent a violent eruption covering Pompeii with thirteen feet of ash. Though most of the inhabitants were able to escape, not all were so fortunate.

For centuries the city remained buried. Then, in 1748, excavation began and the city was uncovered. Among the ruins they found the form of a man. He had, it appeared, turned back after a box of gold and jewels. Clinging to it, he was suffocated by the hot ash as it descended over the city. He had managed to hold on to some of his precious possessions, but it had cost him his life.

In commissioning His disciples to go “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Christ assigned to men the work of extending the knowledge of His grace. But while some go forth to preach, He calls upon others to answer His claims upon them for offerings with which to support His cause in the earth. He has placed means in our hands, that we might have a part in doing the work appointed us in saving our fellow men.

1. Who is owner of the world and everything in it?

Psalm 50:7, 10–12

2. Specifically, to whom does the money belong?

Haggai 2:8

3. What does Paul tell us the love of money is?

1 Timothy 6:10

Note: While money can be a great blessing, when it becomes more important to us than the Giver, it becomes a curse. In heaven, Lucifer lost sight of the Creator-creature relationship. He became selfish, and in his mind believed it possible to have equality with God. To protect men from feelings of self-sufficiency, God designed that they should return to Him a portion of that which they receive. This act of giving effectively keeps ever before men’s minds the fact that all they have is given them by the Creator, while also working to root selfishness out of their heart.

4. From where do we receive the ability to gain money?

Deuteronomy 8:18

Note: God gives us the power, the strength, and the intelligence to obtain what we have. In return He reserves a portion of all He gives us, to be returned to Him as a grateful acknowledgment, on our part, of His ownership and goodness to us.

5. What portion of our wealth does God claim as His own?

Leviticus 27:30

Note: The word tithe is a Hebrew word which means a tenth. This portion of our increase the Lord claims as His.

6. Who received the tithe in ancient Israel?

Hebrews 7:5

Note: The Levites were the tribe especially set apart for the temple ministry. Today the tithe is to be dedicated to the gospel ministry.

7. What does God promise to do for us if we are faithful in tithing?

Proverbs 3:9–10

8. In addition to tithes, what else did the children of Israel contribute to the Lord’s work?

Exodus 35:4–5

9. How does God view our appropriating the tithe to our own use?

Malachi 3:8–9

Note: While it is a serious matter to steal from a fellow human being; consider how much more serious it is to steal from our Creator.

10. Did Jesus recognize the tithing principle?

Luke 11:42

11. In what spirit are we to return to God our tithes and offerings?

2 Corinthians 9:7

12. In our daily striving to succeed, what is to be our first interest?

Matthew 6:33

13. Where only is our money safe?

Matthew 6:19–20

Note: Many who profess to be God’s people cultivate the love for money, for houses and lands, and other material possessions until it shuts out love for the Creator and for the souls for whom Christ died. They become blind to eternal interests which become secondary to their desire to increase worldly possessions. In doing this they are in direct violation of Christ’s injunction to make our heavenly holdings our first concern.

14. In what way are we affected by our giving habits?

Matthew 6:21

Note: The selfish love of riches is a character defect, which, if not remedied, will prevent us from gaining heaven. To counteract this tendency, man was given the privilege and obligation to develop the unselfish principle of giving. This is a vital part of the plan for the restoration of the image of God in the soul, a vital part of the plan of salvation.

15. In the giving of our offerings, what is just as significant as the amount of money we give?

2 Corinthians 8:12

Note: In Luke 21:1–4, we find the story of a poor widow woman who in placing in the temple treasury a very small offering, was recognized by Jesus as having given more than those of wealth who contributed much larger gifts. In doing so, Jesus recognized the principle behind giving. The Lord measures the spirit and rewards accordingly. See Luke 19:15–26.

16. How does it become evident that we have the love of God within us?

1 John 2:5

Note: The whole purpose in God’s asking men to return a portion of that with which He has blessed them, is to keep selfishness from gaining a foothold in their hearts. God’s plan to redeem mankind was conceived in, and could only be carried out in sacrifice. Loving and giving are inexorably joined together. Only when we give sacrificially, is it evident that the love with which we are loved has struck a responsive chord in our hearts. Self-denial and the cross lie directly in the pathway of every Christian who is following Christ.

17. When we share of our means to help those less fortunate than ourselves, to whom does Christ consider the gift given?

Matthew 25:34–40

18. Between what two great attractions must all eventually decide?

Matthew 6:24

Note: The word “mammon,” used in some versions of the Bible, is a term that means money, or riches. This test was brought to bear on the rich young ruler who came to Christ desiring to know what, if anything, stood between himself and eternal life. See Matthew 19:16–22. Just as did he, each individual must make the same decision. The nature of that decision reveals our priorities and what has first place in our affections, thus determining our eternal destiny.

19. What will eventually happen to the things of this world?

2 Peter 3:10

20. With this in mind, where should the Christian keep his attention directed?

2 Corinthians 4:18

The day will come when the treasures that men have accumulated will be of no value. “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” Isaiah 2:20–21. (This applies to more than graven images, for whatever we cherish that tends to lessen our love for God or to interfere with the service due Him, of that we have made a god.) At that time, particularly significant will be the words of Christ: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36

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