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God and money -- Success, Malachi 3:8-12
Will a man rob God? Yes
The entire book of Malachi is a dialogue between God and His people. God is not happy with the people at the time this book is written. There is widespread greed and corruption in high places. People are neglecting the poor and the so-called religious people have little respect for God. The scripture that I will look at here is often used to talk about people's attitude toward giving financially to the church, but the text has wider implications than that. We cannot be successful and disrespect God at the same time. Yet that is exactly what many people try to do. Many people have a flippant attitude toward God. They think they don't need God...until something happens to show them how many things they have no control over. Even then, they are bewildered and sometimes get angry with God rather than seeking Him to discern what corrective action to take. These verses are especially interesting because there is nothing new under the sun and things that went on back then are going on today.
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."
To be called a thief is a serious charge. But that is what is happening here. God accuses people of stealing from Him. He is making reference to the fact that people are not giving tithes and offerings. The tithe was the ten percent that God expected people to give Him from their income. This money was used for the upkeep of the temple and those who served there. People wanted the temple services but they didn't want to pay any money to keep them going. It is so similar today, and not just in the church. People want a high level of service from those who choose to help but they don't want to contribute to the upkeep of the helpers. Policemen, firemen, teachers, social workers, and ministers are expected to scrape along with a wage that barely makes ends meet. Yet we want topnotch security, protection, education and help in times of crisis and we don't seem to understand when these people leave their professions in frustration. God created a system to take care of His workers and His workplace, but people were not cooperating with that system.
"Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation."
There are many reasons why people don't pay tithes to God, just as there were back then. For some people, they believe "my money is mine and I don't have to give it." However, God is the source of everything and He has the right to ask what He will. He is the source of the job you have, the money you make, the skills you use, the opportunities that come your way. Refusing to do what God tells us to do is more than robbing Him of money. It is also robbing Him of respect, of loyalty, of honesty, and of love. Others hold back out of fear of not having enough. But isn't this saying God cannot or will not take care of you? Whatever the reason a person gives for not obeying God, it calls for some self examination. It is no accident that our entire economy is struggling to get back on it's feet. All the sectors are fluttering up and down, trying to regain balance. But God offers an answer to the problem.
God gives the power to get wealth
Let's make a deal
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Here God makes us an offer that is hard to refuse. He says, I will make a deal with you. You pay the tithes that you are supposed to pay anyway and I will bless you so much that you won't have room to hold it all. This is another of those IF-THEN promises. IF you do your part and pay the tithe, THEN God will bless you with abundance. IF you keep robbing God, then curses await you. IF you pay the tithes, blessings await you. God says through the prophet, "Try Me and see for yourself." Sometimes when your financial situation is looking pretty bleak, the simple act of tithing can turn things around.
"And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts."
In the previous verse, God says He will pour out a blessing. But in this verse He is offering a different type of help, that of protection. You can have wonderful plans and be carrying them out when suddenly everything starts falling apart. Your new business can fail before you have a chance to get rolling. Your relationship can break up just when you thought things were working well. All sorts of things can happen to ruin your best plans. But God says He will protect you from these kinds of disasters if you do what He tells you in verse 10. He will assist you in bringing your dreams to reality. He will make sure that the things you start reach their proper conclusion.
"And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."
This is not just an individual blessing but a national one. If all the people of the nation who follow the Lord would give Him tithes, the whole nation would enjoy the blessings of the Lord. And other nations would see it and be impressed with our blessed status. As more and more people seek to understand God and His Word, and as we practice the things we learn, we will move closer to this ideal situation.
This is still another of God's formulas for success. It is really just common sense that if we want to be pleasing in the sight of God, we have to respect Him and do the things He tells us to do. Jesus said, "The one who loves me is the one who keeps my words." For God and for Jesus, Love is spelled O-B-E-Y. And this is the way for us to do well in life, individually and collectively as a nation.