Failure to live faithfully has been the focus of our study of the book of Malachi. Thus far we have learned that the people of Malachi’s day had major problems in their worship that God sought to correct. They questioned God’s love, were apathetic in worship, the religious leaders turned aside from true instruction (causing many to stumble), they dishonored marriage, and accused God of being unjust. If that were not bad enough, they selfishly robbed God by withholding their tithes and offerings. In today’s sermon we will remember that Christians give faithfully when they give cheerfully and sacrificially for the glory of God.
God is Faithful (Even When We are Faithless)
God began His disputation with His unfaithful people by reminding them of His faithfulness. God said, “I do not change; therefore you…are not consumed.” Consider God’s great patience and forbearance in that “from the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them.” God is patient and kind; therefore, He promised “return to Me, and I will return to you.” God remained ready and willing to forgive everyone who returned to Him in repentance and faith. But the people ask, “how shall we return?”
We can only return once we acknowledge our unfaithfulness. The Lord revealed that they were unfaithful in their giving. God said, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me.” The people reply, “How have we robbed You?” The Lord answered, “In your tithes and offerings.” In the Old Covenant, the tithe was usually given in the form of crops or animals and was given to the Levites. In Number 18:21, the Lord said, “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting.” In Number 18:24, the Lord said, “For the tithe…which they present as a contribution to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance.” By failing to give their tithe, the people were robbing the Levites of their inheritance but, more importantly, they were robbing God.
The Lord graciously and lovingly disciplines His children when they sin. He told them that they were “cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you.” Then the Lord promises forgiveness with their repentance, “bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be good in My house. And thereby put Me to the test.” The Lord promised that He would take care of them if they would trust Him. God allowed “the devourer” to destroy their crops, but God will rebuke it if they trust Him.
While the laws and regulations of the Old Covenant have passed away with the New Covenant, it is still possible for God’s children to rob God. How do we remain faithful in our giving? Faithful giving is remembering that God is the owner and we are the managers. Faithful giving is done cheerfully and sacrificially for the glory of God.
Giving for the Glory of God
“Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Everything you have is a gift from God in order to bless you and help you be a blessing to others. Faithful giving is motivated out of love for God and a desire to be used for the glory of God.
God wants us to give cheerfully to the Kingdom of God. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Our giving should be motivated by love and not fear. Our giving must be motivated by compassion rather than greed.
God wants us to give sacrificially to the Kingdom of God. Usually when tithing and giving are mentioned, we focus on a certain percentage. Tithe, for example, means one-tenth. But in the New Covenant, God does not limit His followers to a certain percentage. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, Paul mentioned that the churches of Macedonia “gave according to their means…and beyond their means.” In the early church “there was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold” (Acts 4:34). In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul speaks of Christians to give “as he may prosper.” The question should not be “Should I give 10%?” The prayer should be to God: “Lord, it is all Yours, guide me to give cheerfully and sacrificially for Your glory.”
Are you robbing God? God knows, but how can you know? Let us consider our time, talent, and treasure. Who is the rightful owner of your possessions? Who determines how you use your possessions? Who or what sets your schedule and determines your “to-do” list? Christians give faithfully when they give cheerfully and sacrificially for the glory of God. God calls us to repent of our sin. He says, “return to Me, and I will return to you” (7). God is faithful and loves you and wants your obedience. Let us repent of our selfish unfaithfulness and commit to humble obedience.