Malachi 3:10 (HCSB)
10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,” says the Lord of Hosts. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.
Robbing God. That’s what this passage says the Israelites are doing. The passage also gives insight into what it might look like when Israel does not rob God. There is obvious practical application here for us today.
Malachi 3:10 is one of those “go to” verses when there is a sermon on tithing. God lays down the challenge, and we are, or should be, motivated and inspired to boost our giving… at least for the next week or two. But let’s not get bogged down with that single verse, let’s explore the beginning of this pericope, what is said prior to God’s challenge. Prior to the big challenge, God accused Israel of robbing Him. Wait, robbing God? That was the Israelites reaction as well. And yes, robbing God. That’s a perspective of tithing, of giving, that we easily lose. When we do not give we are not just keeping for ourselves, or, at worst, slowing the renovation plans for the sanctuary or making the pastor drive his car for just one more year. No, it’s not that small, it’s not that localized, it’s not that “harmless”… we are robbing, stealing, taking what is His without permission… we are doing that to God. If we would keep that thought in our minds, that alone might change the giving behavior of many of us.
But it gets “better”. Check out what the result is of robbing God: “You are suffering under a curse.” If you rob God, you suffer a curse. It seems sort of like common sense, but again, we don’t think about withholding from giving as robbing God. And to top it all off, we are cursed, yet we continue to rob God! Maybe the curse is greed… or an increase of it, a turning over to it, a removal of God’s protection from greed. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to stop tithing, and so hard to start, for so many of us? Whatever the curse is, it’s not good, else it would be called a “blessing”!
So when we do accept God’s challenge, when we do give according to His plan, then what happens? We get that blessing poured out all over us! Maybe that looks like a breaking free from greed. Maybe it creates new relationships, opens our eyes to needs and struggles we never saw before, frees us up to pursue God more… who knows, but it’s good! And just as God stated in Malachi 3:7, the relationship is restored between us and God when we give according to His plan. And it makes sense, because God demands to be first in our lives, as He deserves to be, so until money can take a backseat to Him there will be a rift in our relationship with God.
And of course the thing we should remember throughout this pericope is that everything is God’s to start with. When we withhold our tithes, our offerings, we are withholding God’s stuff from God… sounds like a thief.
Lord, thank You for the countless blessings You pour out on us daily, especially the single most important one, that being the gift of eternal life as Your child. I am sorry for, all too often, allowing money or possessions to take Your place in my life. Help me to always remember that everything is Yours, and that nothing is as valuable as the relationship You offer us. Amen.