STEWARDS, NOT OWNERS
Father, I thank you for teaching me from your Word today. May all I do today be pleasing in your sight.
Read MALACHI 3:6-18
Breaking Covenant by Withholding Tithes
6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
Israel Speaks Arrogantly Against God
13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”
The Faithful Remnant
16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.’1 Do you share David’s sense of dependence on, and gratitude to, God?
Malachi 3:6–12 sits between two oracles about God’s justice. Malachi’s hearers can question God’s justice only because he is unchanging in his compassion, slowness to anger and forgiveness.2 Despite their disobedience, he leaves time for them to repent (‘return’; v 7). When they ask in what way they need to return, Malachi gives another example of their covenant-breaking: failure to give the required tithes of their produce. These provided for the upkeep of the priests and Temple service and care for the poor in the community.3 They seemed to think that God was not blessing them as they expected and so they lacked the means to give the tithes. However, the tithes were meant as recognition that the land was God’s, not theirs, and that he gave them the strength and ability to use it as his stewards, who should give the tithes out of gratitude. The blessings promised in verses 10 and 11 follow from living in a covenant relationship with God, they are not a payback for tithing.4
Should Christians tithe? Jesus does not require it of his followers and Paul gives general guidance only.5 Giving should be systematic and thoughtful in a willing, cheerful and generous spirit. The amount given should be proportionate to what we have and to the needs of those less well off. What we give is acceptable to God ‘according to what one has, not according to what one does not have’.6
The second oracle about God’s justice is an assurance that God does know and care about how people are behaving. He will come in judgment and vindicate those who have feared him. Because they have honored his name he knows and will remember their names. They will become his ‘treasured possession’ (v 17). This is an assurance that is also given to Christians.7
Study Paul’s teaching on giving and review your giving in the light of what he says.
Generous God, grant me joy as I seek to become a good steward of all that you have entrusted to me.
1 1 Chr 29:14 2 Exod 34:6, 7 3 Deut 14:22–29 4 Deut 28:3–12 5 1 Cor 16:1, 2; 2 Cor 8:8–15; 9:6–11 6 2 Cor 8:12 7 Eph 1:14
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