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February 7, 2018, 8:52 AM

Robbing God

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“‘…Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘But you say, “How shall we return?” Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me…’” (Malachi 3:7-10)

Suppose you asked me to write your biography. And suppose I had access to only one of your personal items to try to determine what was really at the heart of your life. I wouldn’t ask to see your diary, or your prayer journal, or even your Bible, though I might find personal notes and insights you’ve jotted down through the years. If I could use only one personal item to help me write your biography, I would choose your bank statement. Your canceled checks and debits would reveal more to me about what mattered to you. After all, Jesus’ teaching from two thousand years ago still applies to us today, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).

The Lord calls us to be aware of where we are investing the gifts He gives us. So, through the prophet Malachi, the Lord asked this intensely personal question: Will a man rob God?And God immediately answered His own question: Yet you have robbed Me . . . in tithes and offerings! This is a strong accusation. When we don’t return to God what is His, it’s as though we’re robbing Him personally. Jesus Himself instructed us to “render . . . to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). Most Christians would never entertain the thought of not paying their property taxes, sales taxes, or income taxes: they know this rendering to Caesar what belongs to him is right and good and required. And yet an alarming number of Jesus’ professed followers seldom, if ever, render to God the things that are God’s . . . and in the process they rob Him.

God says, “You have robbed Me.” We answer with a question: “In what way have we robbed You?” In a flash comes his reply: “in tithes” (giving 10% of our income) “and offerings” (gifts beyond the tithe). Some Christians believe the tithe is an Old Testament command with no bearing on us because we’re not under the Law. The reality is that the tithe existed among God’s people before the Law was given (Gen. 14:20). Later, when the Law was given, tithing was included (Lev. 27:30). In the New Testament we find Jesus both approving of and practicing the tithe (Matt. 23:23). Tithing is a constant practice of God’s people before, during and after the Law. Personally, I have not understood, in light of the cross, why anyone under grace would give less than those under the law. Not to mention the beautiful promise that’s tied to tithing. God says, Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10).

As far-fetched as it may seem, our finances generally mark the condition of our spiritual pilgrimage. We are often no further along in our walk with God than the point where we have learned to trust Him with our tithes and offerings. So, it’s worth a check-up, what do our bank statements reveal?

Let us join in prayer: Loving Father, considering your Son, help us to be cheerful givers. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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