Malachi 3:8-12: “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 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. 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. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.”
Tucked away at the end of the Old Testament is the book of Malachi. Most Christians are likely only familiar with one section of the book – the part about giving money. This section of Scripture is sometimes treated like the password to unlock access to God’s bank account. Among prosperity teachers, this verse is beaten like a piñata on Cinco De Mayo.
For starters, context matters. Like any conversation, if you don’t know the people talking with one another and only pull a few statements out of the middle of their interaction, you can easily rush to wrong conclusions about what was said.
Throughout the book, God reveals Himself as a Father having a conversation with His rebellious kids. The context is a bit like a family meeting between an awesome dad and His awful kids. The people were frustrated with God because they felt like He should give them more money, make their lives easier, and make their problems go away. They were saying awful things about God, and protesting by failing to worship, pray, give, or serve. Making matters worse, the spiritual leaders were siding with the people and standing against the Lord.
Jesus was clear that where our treasure is, our heart is (Matthew 6:21). Knowing the connection between our heart and our wallet, God is seeking to open both.
God does something unprecedented in asking His people to test Him. This is the only place I can find that God invites someone to test Him. Jesus said this is not something we should do, rebuking Satan by saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” in Luke 4:12.
Some things that happen in the Bible are one-time commands and some things are all-time commands. When Moses had a staff turn into a snake and turned river water into blood, that is not intended to be departments at a seminary, teaching others how to do the same with Snakes 101 and Blood 202 as classes. When Jesus spit on the ground and put mud in a guy’s eyes, for example, to heal his blindness, He did not command us to excel at spitting in the eyes of blind guys. So, the command from God to test Him seems to be most likely a one-time command to a group of people and not an all-time command to all people. Behind this, however, is a principle that giving is an act of faith as God wants to give through you and not just to you.
In what specific ways was God generous toward you in this past year?