Malachi 1:11-12: “‘For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place, incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.’”
When I was a little kid, they took us city kids up into the woods for a day to learn about nature. Before we jumped on the bus for the return trip home, they gave each of us a small sprout that they said would turn into a giant pine tree if we planted and watered it.
Excited to see if I could grow a tree, upon arriving home I found a shovel and dug a hole in the front yard where I buried the seedling. I kind of forgot to ask my parents’ permission, and before long they were surprised to see a small pine tree growing in our front yard. Eventually, that tree grew up to hold a birdhouse and provide shade on warm days.
In 1 Peter 1:23, we are told that the “word of God” is also a “seed”. God’s intent was to plant it in the nation of Israel, have it grow up, and then send forth that seedling to be planted among the nations. His desire was to bring the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the world. For this to happen, God’s people in Israel would need to also have the seed of truth take root in their lives causing them to be generous to get God’s Word out to God’s world.
God’s plan was that people would give the first fruits (or first and best) of their wealth. For the rancher, this meant giving livestock. For the farmer, this meant giving food. This wealth was supposed to be used for missions and reaching the nations.
In Malachi, at the end of the Old Testament, things are not going well. The ranchers were bringing animals that were “blind” and “sick”. Can you imagine giving a puppy with that description to a child for Christmas? The dishonor to God was deep. In addition, the farmers were giving the rotten leftovers to God because they thought that’s all He deserved for being a rotten God.
Rather than being generous, they were greedy. The bad offering in their hand merely reflected the bad attitude in their heart. So, God was honest that they needed to be grateful for what they had, share it with others, and trust Him to provide for their needs. Roughly 2,500 years later, the old adage holds true – you either worship your wealth as God or worship God with your wealth.
How has God been generous to you spiritually, financially, relationally, emotionally, physically, etc.?