"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But
you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a
curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me. Bring the
whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house."
How often have you heard sermons preached on these 3 texts? 10 times? 20? A hundred? I'm pretty sure the number, on my account, is pretty high! So it is not my intent to belabour the point that we should, indeed, give back to God what is rightfully His! However, as I read through these texts this morning, something totally new to me popped out (Ain't it great to read God's Word with the Holy Spirit as your guide? Even the most familiar passages can take on totally new meaning!).
Let's go back a couple of chapters, to Mal. 1: "You place defiled food on my altar. But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' By saying that the LORD's table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong?" (Mal 1:7-8)
Here we find a different scenario. The people of Israel are, indeed, bringing in the offerings. But what they are bringing are the "#2"s! God required the people to bring to Him the 1st of the flock, the best of the animals, without spot or blemish. Why? For one thing, these animals represented Jesus' death on the cross. For another thing, I'm sure God knew that bringing the "best" to the Lord would help to stop such temptations as materialism, pride, worldliness, etc. But the people were not doing what the Lord commanded. Though they were bringing in the offerings, they weren't doing it out of the Love of their hearts. They were ceremoniously following a recipe. They had forgotten what the sacrifices were all about. They didn't know their Lord! Many lessons could be learned from this, but I will simply focus on one: When we give offerings to the Lord, we must do it out of love. We must give God the best of what we have. Otherwise, we "defile" the altar!
How does all of this tie into Mal. 3:8-10? We often interpret this text to mean that the people were simply not bringing in their tithes and offerings. And perhaps in many cases, this was true. But Mal. 1:7 would indicate that the offerings were, indeed, being brought in, but not in an acceptable state. Could it be that God was saying the people were robbing Him by bringing in inferior sacrifices? Could "robbing" God also mean giving to the Lord for the wrong reasons? Giving because we have to give, or perhaps the motivation for giving to only "receive" a blessing in return?
My friends, I would like to propose that even those who faithfully give back to God their tithes and offerings, may still be guilty of "robbing" God! We must give God the best of what we have, we must give it to Him first, not waiting to see if there will be enough at the end of the month before we give, and we must do it because we love God, not because it is a duty or because we expect something in return!
Here is just one more thing to think about. Money isn't the only kind of "offering" we can give God. We also give God offerings of our time, our service, our talents, when we use them for Him. We give offerings when we help others, when we supply food and clothing for the needy, when we visit the sick, those who are in prison, and the list goes on. But do we? And if we do, don't we often just give God our "diseased" and "blind" gifts? In other words, do we always give God the best of our time, talent, and service? Or do we just give God what is left over at the end of the day? Do we always give the best that is in our cupboards and closets? Or do we just give the needy the canned goods that have been there forever and nobody ever eats? Or maybe just the clothing that is out of style, outgrown, or half-worn out? Do we go to the store and buy things for the needy? Or do we clean out our closets and cupboards and take the contents to Good Will? Think about it, my friends!
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house." (Mal 3:8-10)
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets ( www.scripturalnuggets.org ), Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org