"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You? ' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," says the Lord of hosts; "And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land," says the Lord of hosts.
We note the familiar pattern of Malachi in the opening verse, in telling the priests whose focus this book is, the Word of the Lord. He opens with a question, "Will a man rob God?” then provides a response as if the priests had answered no, then offers a counter denial as if they recognised that the accusation was positive, true of them – God is showing them that He knows what is going on in their hearts. God follows up through Malachi enlarging the accusation from the priest to the whole nation. Malachi reminds them why they are in the state they are in – a vassal state, for they are cursed because of their ways, the way they lived their lives, and the way they worshipped the one true God – Jehovah. God then offers the Jewish people, and the priests a deal as it were, a blessing in exchange for their obedience in tithing and giving to the Lord. This passage is still so relevant for today’s church, right down to our own attitudes, and at times the denials we speak. I need to stress on the outset, that denial is not necessarily a spoken word, it can be an omission or failure to act, or an excuse, which on the surface looks reasonable, but dig underneath and we find that it is related to priority and importance we place on the things of God, versus those things that we find important in life related to work, home life, sport, or other activities.
Let us begin with the thrust of the message to the priests and the people. It was all about money. In the days in which these words were spoken, tithes were a standard offering method. Many people think that this was ten percent as found in the Old Testament; however, a figure is not usually given, just inferred. In fact, few passages actually state ten percent as a figure, though Hebrews says: Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. Most of the verses however, note giving of tithes as a process, and not a specific value, for example, every tenth animal (Leviticus 27:30-33). What is pretty obvious as one reads Leviticus and its co-books of the Pentateuch, as you read the various texts, the more one can see that ten percent was the starting point of any giving! We see that in Deuteronomy 15 - and I give you the whole passage to ensure you too see the context of all this:
"If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land’. Deuteronomy 15:7-11
As you see, there is nothing here that says that what you give your brother can come off what is given to the Lord. It all adds up, all the way back to giving back to a person everything that had been his that you have through unpaid debt – give it back, not a penny for it. Many more verses are like this – never cutting the corners of the field, or picking twice through the vineyard, or picking up the fallen grain – it was all for the poor. More interesting is God’s command that as soon as you are giving to God in response to a sin a person had done, an extra fifth is added. I think that God is basically saying that what we have is not ours, and we need to be generous towards Him by being generous to the poor. Think on Matthew 25:31-46 – which says in one line: 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. '
One thing to remember is how Israel got to live where they were. God gave them the land. As we find in Exodus:
“I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey." (Exodus 3:17)
God provided the land and He owned the land: "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine’ Deuteronomy 25:27 God provided the produce of the land. "So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety.” Leviticus 25:18-19. These verses remind us that the Israelite’s life and land were not their own; all were part of God’s blessing to them. God was able to ensure they had enough food to eat their fill. All they had to do is give back to God a portion, He allowed them to use His land, He ensured the crops provided food, if they did the labour. Not giving of the crops to God were denying Him His own goods. Nothing we have on this earth is ours, though we can have use of them by the grace of God and His generosity towards us. We are no different even if we do not live in Israel as a Jew. This is why we see the word ‘rob’ in today’s text. They were taking from God that which was His, just as we take away from God what is His. If we are to consider this more in our context, as just mentioned broadly - what of ours is God’s? Everything! All the way down to the personal – to see this maybe contemplate Colossians 3:28 - And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. More later! But I digress. Let us look a little closer at tithes in today’s world before we move to other topics of great importance to today’s church around how we ‘rob’ God.
There are many arguments out and about in Christian communities about tithing. For example, the Israelites did not pay tax – unless they were a vassal state as in the Malachite times, nor did they pay GST on their goods. Tithing was in itself like a tax! Most arguments by today’s church goers are about why one should only give a token to the modern church cents, coins, ten dollars maybe, few people argue the opposite - about the need to give more, like why It is better to give twenty percent of one’s income!! When did you last hear that argument? So when the detractors of tithing argue about the tax system we also need to remember that the Israelites had to go to war and bring the spoils back for part of their income, and hand over, sometimes all of it to the Lord, other times part of it. There is no perfect answer, but Malachi tells us that the more generous we are, the more we get in return.
Let me be clear here, this is not the gospel of blessing in exchange for money (prosperity gospel), for Scripture tells us in Acts 8:20: Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!, and also: Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5) Jesus Himself tells us: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:21) Many Scriptures tell us that we have a need to care for the orphans and widows, and to spread the gospel, which, in the Western world in which we live, takes money. God tells us to give and give, basically live simpler lives so that others may live. Paul, writing to Timothy tells us:
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Timothy:6:17-19).
Prosperity thinkers believe that one can use God to benefit self, when quite the opposite is true. They say – ‘Obey God and He will make you rich’ – ‘works-based’ Christianity. Rather it is that we are to serve the Lord and be blessed with all spiritual blessings and no more wealth than God sees fit for one to have. Faith does not bring wealth, except in the knowledge of God. Jesus had absolute faith, but His last will and testament left no material wealth, apart from blood soaked clothes, and the need to get a disciple to care for His mother. If prosperity gospel was true, Jesus would have lived in a palace. He has heaven though, and he lives there now, and we can have the same.
This passage is therefore not about getting rich, or there being anything wrong with wealth in itself. In fact a church with wealthy members, who follow tithing, and other instructions, will be a benefit to the church in that the poor and needy will be cared for, and those wealthy people will be blessed in their giving. That is a different message, one about how a wealthy person needs to act and behave, ensuring their treasure is in heaven, and what God has blessed them with on this earth is given to the work of God. It is though what God was getting at in our verses. We need not focus on material wealth but rather the focus must be on the spiritual. That is the core message today. Giving is both monetary, and spiritually, of one’s self to others.
F A Blair writes: If we are spiritually poor and there is no increase then be sure we have not given God that which is due to Him. We cry for increase and there is decrease and wonder why; God is not getting the firstfruits. Bring tithes and offerings and give freely to the LORD and your own store is increased. Even the heathen say, "The gift of the gods takes root in him who gives it away." They grow richest who give most to God. Do not say, the LORD has given little gift, say rather we have given little praise, not walked enough in His company, and drawn little on His grace.
What we see therefore, in this portion of Malachi, is the message – by your actions you are known; God knows your heart; and, why there may be empty storehouses of the Lord that would be used to feed the poor and look after those in need. The priests and the people were not giving to God what He was due meaning they must have had wealth, otherwise the question would be void of substance. However, the real thrust of what God is saying through Malachi is more than this. We do need to give, and we do need to be very careful that we give enough, and enough is always more than we think is enough (generally). However, the opening question here, is “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! Do we rob God today? Have we robbed Him in any way this week, this day, this morning? Let us revise our memory to the verse I gave you earlier: And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. In this context – the instruction that all we ‘do’, not just some things, not just Lord’s Day morning, all we ‘do’, we do for the Lord. Therefore, on that note let us move to some examples of how the modern Christian robs God, and gain some lessons in this area of our lives. I doubt if anyone can say that they never rob God, so the message I put to you is that this is for us all, especially the modern church in the materialistic world that focuses on the individual – the me focus, as exampled in one of the most popular photographic genre’s – the selfie!
Let us back up to one of the verses we did not get to last week – a topic of current political confrontation and moral questioning: ‘I will be a swift witness… against those who turn away an alien. I start here not because it may be seen as most off topic, or controversial, rather, by the time we reach the end of this message, this should all tie together. There is a policy in Australia regarding refugees, in particular, the group known as the boat people. The last political campaign included a slogan ‘stop the boats’. When I read this verse in Malachi, and noted what God says about those who turn away someone who has needs from another country, I realise that I as a Christian, cannot have a political opinion on the matter, for God has given me His Word about the matter. In fact God says that if I don’t hold to this opinion, then I am not following Him. He says this quite clearly in the verses that follow: Because they do not fear Me," Says the Lord of hosts. God then gets Malachi to record for us here in the 21st century, the reminder that God Himself has a single opinion on the subject, back then, and 2400 years later, and to make sure we understand His mind, He gives us the words: "For I am the Lord, I do not change.”
You may be wondering, what does this have to do with robbing God, after all, these are preceding verses, which also talk of those who get into sorcery, perjury and adultery, and those who do not treat with generosity labourers, widows and orphans (Malachi 3:5). You see, tithing is not the only way that God expects us to give back. Money is easy, it is impersonal, it is easily distributed and it does not take much from our personal lives as such. We can even donate online, and never have to do anything else – the tithe is paid.
God lists before the verses about robbing Him, sins against Him through lack of hospitality, generosity, and care of the less fortunate. Because we live in Australia, we have so much more wealth than many of the poor of the world. We therefore, have responsibility. We also have the gospel, and the two should go hand in hand. We are therefore, robbing God twice, one by not caring for the alien, and secondly, not enabling those who may not have the call to travel as missionaries, to have non-believing people on their own doorsteps as a mission field. However, it goes beyond this, for when we do have them on our doorsteps, do we preach the gospel? Psalm 83 tells us to do exactly this:
Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked. They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness (Psalm 83:3-5)
Our politics must match that of the Lord, not that of some political party. We need to have the right views otherwise we demonstrate that we are not fearing the Lord. Not fearing the Lord robs Him of the glory that we should be giving Him, and cheapens His Word that He gives to us, for we brush it aside to hold a different view.
That example therefore, gives you the point I wanted to work towards. The main point is all about the attributes of God. I put to you that if we fail to acknowledge those attributes, acknowledge God’s place in all parts of life through those attributes, then we surely are robbing God? Let us develop this further, and get a firm grasp on the Biblical principles that define who God is, what God is, holiness itself, love in its completeness, grace without measure, timelessness, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, eternal, creator, tribunal, self-sufficient, and our Father.
Jeremiah has an interesting verse to ponder in this context: Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; truly, in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. (3:23) Note the words – ‘in vain’ – pointless, waste of time, useless! Skip your eyes down a little to verse 25: For we have sinned against the Lord our God… from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God." I have taken out the middle bit, but this is what Jeremiah is saying (the verses are connected) that if we look to the hills and mountains for salvation, worshipping the country, not the creator, then we have sinned. Remember, the Lord does not change, we have just read that. We rob God of his creatorship.
Moving quickly through Scripture, let us go to the New Testament. Start with a gospel verse - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17) Just in case we misread this text, and think that it is us in believing makes the salvation happen, Paul explains clearly in Romans: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith (3:23-25) and reiterated further in Romans, we see either side of the parenthesis there in verses 12 and 18: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-… Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. God as Saviour!
Here is the first principle of salvation, that of being a Christian. We are Christian, not of ourselves, rather through the righteous act of Jesus Christ, who provided the free gift of eternal life, through His death, and his blood being the propitiation for our sins. Vine says: [The word propitiation] is never used of any act whereby man brings God into a favourable attitude or gracious disposition. It is God who is "propitiated" by the vindication of His holy and righteous character, whereby through the provision He has made in the vicarious and expiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has so dealt with sin that He can show mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins. Romans 3:24-25 demonstrates this point: …being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness.
The bottom line of this argument is this. Salvation is of God. It comes to us freely through Jesus Christ, who dealt with our sin, removed our guilt, and allowed us the ability, by faith, to come to the throne of grace, and accept from the hand of God – salvation! We can do nothing, as in works, to gain this. The minute we add to the getting of salvation, anything at all, from baptism, to reading the Bible, to attending church, we deny the holy and righteous character of God. We say that God does not have that much power, grace, love, righteousness to save us; we may even think we need to help the process. By adding to how salvation happens (when teaching others), even a few works, we rob God, through tarnishing the perception of who He is. God does not change, but we present a less than perfect gospel. I trust all recognise that we take baptism, read the Bible and attend church, not for salvation, but because of salvation. It demonstrates the new man, the reborn man, the person who loves God, and therefore, walks with Him, and does things to please Him.
If we move further on in this vein, we can see what is being said is that withholding from God anything that is His, we are robbing Him. We have just noted that adding something to what God provides freely, robs God of the characteristics that are His, holiness and righteousness. To further emphasise this point, let us consider the verse: And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17). Pretty similar to the earlier one used I know, but note the encapsulating word here, whatever. As we go through our day, doing stuff, are we remembering the ‘whatever’ word? We go out and do a day’s work – in the name of the Lord Jesus. Does this change how we work, how we behave, speak and labour? What about going for a picnic? Going to a movie? Watching stuff on TV. God wants all of us, and all of our time. Whenever we cannot sit with Jesus next to us, then we have moved away from God. What is the significance of this? Apart from failing to meet the command found in this verse, we have another problem. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 1 Corinthians 7:23-24. Put it another way. You buy a car. You want to use that car, the kids have it, the next door neighbour uses it and so it is never in the garage. How would you feel? Robbed? God bought each one of us. He paid a hefty price – the suffering and death of His Son. Worse still, God had to pour on Jesus every single sin that ever existed, and will ever happen. His sinless Son was blamed for everything that He never even once thought of doing. We cost God a huge price. Yet are we there when He wants to use us, or have we allowed Satan to borrow us for His purpose? We rob Him of an action through us.
Anstey writes that ‘our bodies are destined for honour and glory when we reign with Christ in His kingdom.’ He notes that we cannot use our bodies for things not of the Lord, for in chapter 6:15 (1 Corinthians) we read that our ‘bodies are members of Christ’. Paul then uses the example that we cannot join our body to that of a harlot – ‘we simply cannot use them (our bodies) for such an unholy purpose’. Anstey notes that throughout chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians Paul has shown that the Christian’s body is ‘not to be used for gratification, but for the glorification of God’. (pp. 52-53) Anstey goes on to say that God has placed us here in a set state, but man has a tendency to want to change that state. He notes that: the general principle is to remain in the calling wherein the person is called (as we see in verse 24). However, if a person could free himself from menial servitude he was to “use” (not abuse) that freedom to serve the Lord. Paul asks the question Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 1 Corinthians 7:21) Whatever we do, we need to do it for the Lord!
Let us note therefore, firmly fix in our minds, that we cost God more than we can ever repay, so that we may have salvation, and so escape the wrath of God. We are therefore His, and our bodies have become part of the body of Christ. God expects works, once saved, not to keep salvation, but to further His work. He wants us to use that which He gives us for His work. In today’s language, if we do not need to be working at a secular job, then the time we are not working should be used to further His kingdom. This may be through preaching and teaching, giving of hospitality, providing to the widows and orphans, or ensuring the welfare of the refugee and giving them the gospel. Amongst God’s own people Paul recodes the following command:
[P]ut on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3: 12-17)
In summary: For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. (1 Corinthians 3:9) If we act in any different way, what does that say about us, and our relationship with God? My only conclusion takes me back to Malachi: Because they do not fear Me," Says the Lord of hosts. As Tozer points out: “as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative. This blessed knowledge is not given to be enjoyed selfishly. The more perfectly we know God the more we will feel the desire to translate the new-found knowledge into deeds of mercy toward suffering humanity. The God who gave all to us will continue to give all through us as we come to know Him better.” (p.152)
I trust that you can see therefore, robbing God is an act we do every time we downgrade, downplay, or remove from God, His glory, holiness, righteousness, power, love, grace or any other attribute. The second that we as His workmanship, His possession, are found walking or talking outside of that which God has for us, we have taken something away from God.
To shine a better Scriptural spotlight in that point, let us go to 1 Timothy 6:11-12 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. Note the opening words – ‘man of God’. Then the exhortation from Paul – first to flee, which relates to all the things in the previous paragraph - envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth (4-5), then to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness. We note previously also two other comparisons, these are integral to this need to flee and pursue - godliness with contentment is great gain. (v 6) versus: men of corrupt minds.. who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Wolston writing in1898 says “It is a wonderful favour to be God’s man in a dark world. The Shunammite could say, regarding Elisha, “I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually” (2 Kings 4:9)… “Lay hold of eternal life” is a remarkable word. You say, “I think I have got it”. Are you sure of that? It is evidently something that they had to reach out and grasp; for was he not told to lay hold of it? It is what belongs to the man in Christ, but he is to lay hold of what really belongs to him, therefore he adds, fight the good fight of faith. (p. 200-201) What does this really mean? The series of thoughts add up to a way of life for the Christian. The Christian must understand that godliness in itself is not gain, rather, with contentment. One must be content in living a godly life, otherwise, we find ourselves striving for that which God has not provided to us, be it possession, power, position, or even knowledge. Godliness with contentment will equate to holiness, yet it is not something passive. Wolston is not preaching loss of salvation, rather emphasising that eternal life is something gained at salvation, but also something we receive in eternity, and something that we need to grasp, giving us a real reason for pursuing godliness. This is why Scripture tells us that: Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). Salvation is ours now, plus it’s a future thing. We have to strive at it, fight for it, never let it go, for if we let it go, we literally rob God, for we are no longer pursuing those things that are holy, righteous and true. We are no longer spreading the gospel, we are frittering away the gift of God. Salvation is not something we receive and then let lie on the shelf. It needs to grow. I think we often mistakenly think of salvation as a once off occurrence, a happening. Scripture clearly tells us that it is an active, ongoing event, to be worked at, built on, enlarged, and grasped tightly.
We can see the type of attitude and life we should be having in Thessalonians:
But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you - for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? (Thessalonians 3:6-10)
Here Paul notes that despite their own distress, despite their own affliction, the Thessalonians have been living for the Lord, which brings to him, Paul, a state of joy. He states that they are standing fast in the Lord, in faith and love. The news that Timothy brought showed that the Thessalonians had a right heart. There was no robbery there. It is a stark contrast to the verses that are found in Malachi. God has to remind the people that if they bring in the tithes and offerings, blessings will pour out on them. They would be in a place where ‘all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land’. If there were a Timothy at that time coming to Paul with news of the priests, Timothy could never have repeated the report he had of the Thessalonians. This is why Malachi was sent to tell the sorry story. Blessings were not flowing, and the people could not fathom why. Do we ever ask, why is Christianity failing here in Australia? Why are our houses of worship half empty? Where are the blessings flowing? - In China, in Vietnam, in places where Christians may be persecuted. They are standing strong in the Lord in faith and love, and they have the blessings. We know this, for many thousands, tens of thousands are coming to Christ in those countries. Is that not a bountiful harvest? A real blessing? So why not here in Australia? We are robbing God, we do not fear Him.
How do we achieve this? What are the lessons of today from our Scripture today? It is about our hearts, our faithfulness, our love and grace that we should be pouring out to others. We find instruction that is plain and simple further in Thessalonians: Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:6-13) Holiness, blameless, abounding in love for one another. Nothing here about grumbling. Nothing here about failing to tithe, but to give, to provide for the widows and orphans. The verses we have just read show there is room for improvement, but there will always be room for improvement, even in the best of churches, in the best of houses, in the best Christian.
As we draw to a close, I want to say a little on the blessings that are promised here in Malachi, and the base on which they are being offered. ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house’. Hebrews 13:15-16 tells us: let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. God wants to hear from us. He wants us to be praising Him, giving Him thanks. He also wants us to do good and to share – sacrificially. We please God if we follow these instructions. Luke 6:38 has Jesus telling His disciples: Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Again, we see the response of God. Sometimes it will be pleasure – actually it will always be joy even if we do not seem to be having fun; the heart can always have joy! Sometimes God’s response is what we need - forgiveness, or sometimes material blessing, and sometimes it will be treasure in heaven. God is sovereign, God will give how and what He wants when He wants. Who are we to question His response? However, we are to understand that God never changes. He offers us blessings in exchange for what we give to Him. We have clearly seen that in the context of our giving this means part of our money, our material wealth, some to the church, some to those in needs, always more than we think we can afford. We are also to give a sacrifice of praise to God. We are also to give of ourselves, wherever we can, to help someone else. If we do this, we will receive a crown in heaven, and maybe even something we have great need of here, always greater knowledge with an increased understanding and love for our Saviour. Whatever the blessing, it will flow, pour, be abundant. Enjoy the blessing, including being in communion with God.
In conclusion, we rob God daily. We do not give Him the glory He is owed by us, we do not credit Him with the power He controls, nor do we acknowledge His character and allow Him to apply those characteristics in His relationship with us. We make God small, make Him with flaws, pray and never expect an answer, or if we do get an answer put it down to coincidence, something trivial. We lack in giving, we lack in praise, we lack in forgiveness, faith and love. Some more than others, for sure. If we do as Job did, and sacrifice just that bit more, bountiful riches will pour into our lives. Whatever God gives to us, we need to share, if money – help the poor, if spiritual wisdom, teach, if abundant love – love more. Some of us will receive greater forgiveness, for we sin more. Should we be not the best forgiver of others, never taking offence, always pardoning without expecting anything in return, for that is how He has treated us.
Let us pray for holiness with contentment in our lives. Let us be willing servants, generous to the core. Let us always apply the end of Matthew 6 to our lives, then we may have the faith to always give, and never ever rob God: Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat? ' or 'What shall we drink? ' or 'What shall we wear? 'For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Let us pray.
 Blair, F.A. (1946) Meditations on Malachi. Available on line at < http://www.life-everlasting.net/pages/messages/MinorProphets/Meditations on Malachi (FA Blair).php >
 Vine, W.E. & Unger, M.F. (1996) Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Thomas Nelson, USA
 Anstey, B. (2007) The first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. The Maintenance of Order in the Local Assembly. Bible Truth Publishers, USA
 Tozer, A.W. (1978) The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life , HarperOne, USA
 Wolston, W.J P. (1967) Handfuls of Purpose, Bible Truth Publishers, USA