13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ”
Good morning Abba!
Our sins and offenses against you seem to have no end at times. The depth to which we spurn and reject you is truly horrific. Oh that this body of sin and death would once and for all be put right.
Here, man has the audacity to rob you, to take from you what is rightfully yours and yours alone. What is worse, when confronted with their sin against you, they ask how they are guilty of it, not even aware of how they are guilty of robbing you. So, you tell them. They are withholding their tithes and offerings, which were commanded to be given.
Truth is Abba, this is not a sin limited to the nation of Israel. We, the church, are just as guilty of this at times. We face the same temptation - The temptation to keep our abundance for ourselves. When resources are abundant, we are tempted to cushion our lives and make them more comfortable and pleasing, forgetting we are aliens and strangers passing through. When resources are tight, we face the temptation to keep what we have to meet our needs even though you call us to trust you and give to you first. How easy it is to fall into these traps. How enticing is the shine of wealth. How fearful it is to give to you when it will mean lack for the needs in front of us.
And yet, Abba, you command us to give to you first. To honor you with the first fruits of our labors. All our abundance is from your hand. All our provision is from you. And thus our giving, our spending, our use of those resources should reflect that truth.
Abba, how often are we guilty of robbing you?
We rob you by withholding our tithes and offerings.
We rob you by relying upon our wealth instead of depending upon you.
We rob you by not considering you the ruler of our finances and resources.
But Abba, this is not the only way we rob you.
We rob you in the use of our time.
Isn’t there an old phrase, “Time is money.”? :)
I know this text does not speak to use of our time, but as I think upon the ways that we rob you, Abba, I cannot help but think of this. Yes, we rob you in our money…but we also rob you in our time.
Truth is, you ask us to make you first place in our life. The rebuke of robbing you is rooted in something so much deeper. It is rooted in not desiring you enough; not honoring you highly enough; not fear you reverently enough.
At the core, when we rob you, whether in money or time, it is a problem of devotion. It is a worship problem. What is my heart, what are our hearts truly in love with?
For Israel, this text and the book of Malachi as a whole shows where their love and devotion lies. For us, when we rob you, the same is true. When we are guilty of robbing you, it reveals a worship and devotion problem. In this rebuke, you are calling us back to you. When we are satisfied in you; when you are made the center of our lives, our actions, our giving, our serving, our finances and time will reflect the true center of our devotion.
Abba, you even challenge Israel, and I believe us by extension, to test the extent of your abundance and blessing when you are given first place!
10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
You invite us to test the depth of your abundance and blessing! But it requires us to make you the center of our worship. It requires us to step out in faith and give it all trusting that you will be there to supply the need that exists. It requires us to bank everything on you and not allow the temptation of wealth, the fear of losing control to rip our attention from you to the material blessing in front of us.
Oh Abba, that we may look up! May that we see your glorious face! May that we be so delighted and satisfied in you that we relinquish all for you! May we never be guilty of robbing you!
We love you, Abba.
We worship you!