Introduction: Romans chapter 5 repeatedly refers to our
righteousness before God as a gift. In case we were confused
about what “gift” means, it is repeatedly referred to as a
“free gift.” See, e.g. Romans 5:17. Yet some continue to ask
“What does accepting the gift require that we do?” It would
not be a “free” gift if it required that we do anything.
There are, however, two closely related issues. The
practical question is whether we want the gift? Many people
would not accept a free gift of gym membership because they
understand the purpose of a gym. Many people do not want
eternal life in a Kingdom ruled by God. Thus a reasonable
question is this: “Do you really want the free gift of
eternal life in an earth made new?” Asking whether you
really desire a gift does not change the fact that it is
free. The second related question is our study this week.
Why does God command us to do (or not do) certain things?
Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!
I. Making Your Bed is Not Your First Task
A. Read Matthew 6:33. What are we to seek first each
day? (“The Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”)
1. What do you think this means? (Do first the
things that advance God’s kingdom. Since
righteousness is a free gift, Jesus’ direction
that we seek it would mean to act consistently
with a righteous life.)
2. The advice to young people that the first
thing they should do each day is to make their
bed is practical advice. How would you fit
this practical advice with Jesus’ advice?
(Pray before you make your bed!)
B. Look at the last line of Matthew 6:33. What are
the promised “things?” (For that answer we have to
explore the prior context. Let’s do that next.)
II. An Adequate Life
A. Read Matthew 6:25. How many readers are anxious
about these things? Wouldn’t you have to be very
poor to be worried about the basics of eating,
drinking, and what to wear? (Most readers are
probably not too worried about these things.)
B. Read Matthew 6:26 and Matthew 6:28-30. What is
Jesus’ answer to the worry issue? (God’s love for
you. God loves the birds and the flowers, and He
loves you. They look great and you will look fine
C. Read Matthew 6:27. I suspect this gets a lot
closer to home for most readers. Do you worry
about your life span?
1. We should worry about our life span by
exercising, eating right, wearing seatbelts,
and refraining from smoking. What is Jesus
talking about? (The key word is “anxious.”
Anxiety is needless worry. It does not refer
to taking reasonable precautions.)
D. Read Matthew 6:32-33. Explain what the Gentiles
are doing and Jesus’ followers are not? (This is
the great divide. Pagans are racing around after
food, clothes, and life. God automatically gives
these to those who seek first His kingdom.)
1. Notice that this lesson refers to “covenants,”
contracts. Is Jesus offering us a contract?
Seek Him first and He takes care of you?
E. Read Matthew 6:34. How many times have you worried
that something bad would happen to you in the
future and it never did?
III. A Prosperous Life
A. Read Malachi 3:10. What do you think is a “full
tithe?” (A tithe is a tenth of something. The
suggestion is that the people were inclined to
cheat on this 10%.)
1. What results from paying a “full tithe?” (You
are blessed to the point where you need
2. Is this a contract offer? (It is at least
that. God says to “test” Him, which is a
request to take up His offer.)
B. Read Malachi 3:11. If you were a farmer, what
control would you have over “the devourer?” What
control over whether your plants would bear
produce? (These seem to be things that are largely
out of the control of the farmer. From this I
understand God to say that he will keep in control
those things over which we have no control.)
C. Read Malachi 3:12. How will others view your life?
(You are blessed. Living your life is a delight.)
1. Is a personal application a problem since this
refers to a nation?
D. Read Malachi 3:13-14. Are you skeptical of what we
just read in Malachi? (These verses are a warning
against challenging God’s promise when it comes to
E. Read Malachi 3:15. What is the counterclaim of the
doubters? (The arrogant and the evildoers prosper
and God does nothing about it.)
1. Do you think God is condemning the doubters,
or is He anticipating criticism of His tithe
offer? Or, both?
F. Read Malachi 3:16-17. Is Malachi off on another
topic? Or is this related to the tithe discussion?
(This is related. God makes a promise of blessings
that might not be fully realized during our
G. Read Malachi 3:18. Is the tithe promise only
realized in heaven? (No! The text says “once more
you shall see the distinction between [good and
bad people].” Tithe-paying is rewarded here and
H. Let’s ask some hard questions. We will do a deep
dive into this in our next lesson. The temple (and
its storehouse) no longer exist. We don’t have the
same tribal system in which the Levites are
priests and are supported by tithe. And the New
Testament says nothing to Gentiles about tithing.
In light of this, is tithing still required?
I. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-9. What principles do you
find here about contributing to God’s work? (We
don’t find a mandatory number, 10%, instead it
says “give” as you have decided in your heart.)
1. When we were discussing the tithe, what was
the part of God’s challenge that most captured
your attention? (The blessings.)
2. Has that changed? (That is still a central
element – if you sow sparingly, you reap
sparingly. If you sow bountifully, you reap
bountifully. If you give to God He promises to
J. Read 2 Corinthians 9:10-11. Step back and consider
how you would act on the promises of 2 Corinthians
9:6-7 in light of the statements in Malachi 3. How
much would you give? (2 Corinthians 9:7 says that
you get to decide, but keep two things in mind. First, that 10% is
God’s historic benchmark. Second, as we will discuss next week, this text is about helping the poor rather than supporting the ministry. The
constant theme is that giving to God costs you
nothing. What you give is poured back into your
life as blessings. 2 Corinthians 9:11 promises
that “you will be enriched in every way” – which
will allow you to be more generous.)
K. Read 2 Corinthians 9:12. What is the focus of our
giving? (The needs of the saints and showing
gratitude towards God.)
L. Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-14. What additional point
must we consider about living a blessed life? (The
question is not just giving money to God’s work,
we need to be obedient to His will.)
1. Let’s revisit the introduction to this lesson.
Salvation is a free gift. What is not free,
what depends on our actions? (We have seen
that God offers a “contract” with us that if
we seek first His kingdom, if we are
generous financially in supporting His work,
if we obey His commandments, He will give us a
blessed and abundant life.)
2. Is this a promise made to every believer?
(Hebrews 11 and the story of Job show us that
this is a general rule of life, but God’s
timing can and will vary until all evil is
M. Friend, I am proof that being generous with God
results in blessings on earth. All my life I have
worked for a non-profit to advance a principle of
the Kingdom of God. When my wife and I were first
married, and very poor, we paid a double-tithe.
I’ve always considered 10% to be the minimum
benchmark for giving to God. My wife and I are now
old and living on a “fixed income,” yet my wife
has a special zeal to give money to help advance
God’s Kingdom and “the saints.” The Holy Spirit
guides her heart on giving, and we stand
constantly amazed at God’s continued blessings.
Why not decide right now to be generous with God?
IV. Next week: The Tithing Contract.
Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.