When we claim to serve God, and only give a small portion of our tithes and offerings to God, He declares we are robbing Him. What kind of tithes truly rob God? Is it just money and material items, or is it something deeper at work?
With these verses, Malachi is telling the people that have left their one true God. Then he describes how they have done so; by turning away from the decrees or the Law. This has made the people become separated from God.
How does this work for us? This means that if we have accepted God but have willingly and/or willfully chosen to wander away from his Law and Person that we are sinning. It also means that sin builds up and causes each generation to go further and further from God especially when we are giving hollow offerings and tithes to the God of all Creation. Malachi also says that because we are faulty and fallible humans that cannot perceive our own consequences to the choices we have made, our hope is that the God that created us all is not and will never be changeable. His constancy and longevity are what make His plans and purposes eternal and solid which enable Him to keep every promise He has ever made by His Word. So than why is it that we sin? Because we who are human had chosen long ago and still choose to this day our own paths. We can break our word to God, and as we do so we drive ourselves further from Him with each choice in the manner of self service and self-devotion. This means we are the ones turning from Him, and hiding away in the sin of our lives. However, He is awaiting our return and will embrace us again. This is our salvation that we must return to God. Re-turn. Turn ourselves back to God in a manner that He can embrace in all His holiness. But, how can we return?
God answers with another question, “Will a man rob God?”
This is perplexing because God is eternal, all powerful, and does not require our wealth. He is indeed someone who has the entire universe as his possession and all in it is His. Therefore, how could a man rob God? This clearly is implying the sin of an ungrateful and greedy heart. But it is also implying the brokenness of the relationship with the Creator. We can see this from the language in verses 6-7 the sin is robbing God of His chosen people. Thus, the result of shallow practices and forms of worship and lifestyle have brought a curse of God upon those who practice this kind of ‘religion’. And the worst curse God has placed upon us all is to be cut off from Him. This is the spiritual death that occurs because of sin.
From verse 9 we see that all this built up sin and false worship, has robbed the storehouse of God. It seems God’s storehouse is running on empty. We think of storehouses as places to store and keep food, clothing, goods, and other material possessions. However, the storehouse of God is supposed to be crammed full of the universe –what would make it run on empty? Because it is the spiritual storehouse that God is referring to here, not the material. It is the supernatural storehouse of God, not just the natural storehouse. That is not to say God’s power and realm is totally dependent on mankind because He indeed has all authority, power, sovereignty, and all the rights of the true king. But, what is being said is that we have our part to play in the distribution of God’s power on earth. In this case, God is lacking the believers in Him that are truly praying, worshipping, and seeking out Heaven on Earth as it should be.
Here on earth, the Temple represented God’s spiritual storehouse on earth. However, the sin in the people had caused this storehouse to leak and lose the blessings that God intended for His works and people, letting them fall into a dead land that was just taking away all the blessings. We can look it at it as the Leaky Bucket Analogy. We walk to the well (which is God) and dip our buckets (our prayers worship etc.) into the well pulling up water (blessings) but little did you notice that hole in the bucket. As you walk back to your home, the water leaks out the entire way onto the ground and is gone. By the time you get home, there is nothing left. What does this mean? With the sin in our lives unrepented and the shallowness of our relationship with God, we have a giant leaking hole that bleeds out all that God has to offer which is material and more importantly the immaterial. The restoration of broken relationships, and healing can only happen when God’s storehouse is full.
Therefore, it is not just about giving money and materials to God. Even the hollow and shallow can do that, the unsaved can give away all their wealth and property. The sin is thinking that by doing all the ‘giving’ is how the blessings flow from God and that it is the way to get God to do things our way or for us. That sin is great because it hides the real reason we give. It is the relationship to God, the time invested into Him and His will that makes the blessings flow from heaven and it is from a grateful and life full of gratitude that we give our ‘material’ to Him. From a realization that all we have flows from Him, automatically makes us surrender our clutch on the material and the immaterial. For a truly blessed and abundant life, one must be totally and utterly deeply rooted in a relationship with our Father, and we must place a high value and deeply desire that relationship. It sounds easy, but it requires a heavy price to have that kind of relationship with God; total and complete surrender to Him and to live in His definition of holiness. It takes praying, reading His Word, singing praise and worship, and sacrificing our will to His. It is more than just demanding from God what we want, but asking for and doing what He wants. It is not just the mere empty actions of an entertaining person that gains the heart and blessings of the Father, but a child who is learning and living dependent upon Him that receives deeper blessing and true prosperity.
God doesn’t need our material items; He already has them all for Himself. He demands a true and deep relationship with Him in all holiness and purity. He is the author and finisher and therefore He desires His creation to wholly His in all aspects of a spiritual and physical life. As Christians we are to be the Bride of Christ and we need to truly KNOW Jesus for us to be His Bride. Would you marry someone you had never known? The Church has currently lost her way, and is lacking in her knowledge of Jesus and knowing Him. There are ideologies, and different social pressures and requirements that have generated a waywardness that led to sin. We are a lot like Israel’s tragic history with God, but like Israel God calls to us to return to Him. He called to them over and over, as we see through the Old Testament especially in the Prophets writings. Malachi hits on this in verse 7. The return is to REPENT. That means cast off and leave behind that sin. Turn from that and return your eyes to God. Turn from your selfish, self-deluded, and worldly ideas about who God is and what He desires, and get to know the real God. Return to Him. Give yourself wholly a new to Him. This is through constant prayer, praise and worship, and studying the Bible. Restore your relationship with Him and then He will open His arms wide open and throw open the floodgates of Heaven.
After God has thrown open the floodgates of Heaven, after all of us have repented and have cried out to God, and sought to restore our relationship to God by turning away from the sin and disobedience that is when God will move. He will be the one to restore the rightness of a unplagued world, where pestilence is no more. He will provide the life and bread of life for all who have called upon His name and repented. He will make water flow in a dry and empty spiritual land that is thirsty for His presence. Only then will He turn to His people, both futuristically and presently in the Body of Christ. But so long as there is leaking bucket, the presence of God will not be sustained. The leak will bleed out and dissipate the presence, because all sin and any kind of it that is unrepented will create the leak and make it larger. It provides the footstep in that the Opposer needs to bring down the blessings God has prepared for His children. As Christians, Paul in his letters encourages us to not allow such footholds and strongholds to form because they damage our relationship with the Creator and Father.
Mark 2:21-22, Matthew 9:16-17, and Luke 5:36-39
But when we are truly seeking that right relationship with God that the leak will cease. But it is interesting that God is not going to just patch up the leak. He will provide us with a new bucket. That means we can’t just patch up and old ways and hope they work. Jesus spoke of this in the New Testament with his parable of the wineskins. However, He does not get rid of the old bucket either. He uses it for bringing glory to Himself as a sign of what He redeemed us from. It becomes a piece of our testimony of how good, kind, and great our God is. Which than tells of how He has created and Redeemed all the old and the new. That is how God uses our time of return and repentance. It is a reconstruction of the heart and relationship. Thus His tithes and offerings are more than just the materialistic buyoffs that are so often given by people today. It is all about the gratitude for our relationship with Him. If you zoom back out on Malachi 3:6-12, you see more power in the scripture than just the ‘material’ tithes and offerings but it is the relationship and the heart behind the giving that is being stolen away from God. This makes the Scripture more powerful, and potent by explaining more about what is really being robbed away. But God is not finished there.
Luke 21:1-4; Mark 12
In Luke, Jesus notices the differences in the people who are giving. It is not the quantity of wealth being given which drew Jesus to notice the widow giving her all. It was her desperation, her broken life, and in her lack hoping above all hope that God is going to provide for her. It was the hope in her relationship with Creator that drew Jesus’ attention. She gave what she had in a manner that brought noteworthy praise which in turn Jesus rebuked the wealthy givers- not on the quantity of what they gave, but their heart in giving was wrong and did not hold the Lord of Israel, God of Jacob as true King. We can see from this passage it was easy for them to walk in a drop a large sum of money and leave thinking they were okay with God. However, were they? Luke alludes to that they weren’t. Greed had overridden true gratitude and akin to the priests of old, they were consuming the fatted calf for themselves rather than giving it to God for His glory and honor.
What does this mean for us?
Your money, your wealth, your ‘blessings’ may not really all be blessings in the manner we think they are. You might be in the depth of poverty of the soul. The poverty of the soul is where God is not alive, nor are you in a relationship with Him. However, it is this very relationship that needs to be the concern of our Christian walk. From the repentant and God-centered life will flow deep seeded gratitude.
Tithes and offerings were designed to be given with a grateful heart. One that truly knows God and wants to see more of Him. He blesses those in relationship when their heart is truly centered on God. From Malachi we learn this. We see God calling His people to return through repentance. Many people can hand over material goods but God is calling for your time, your soul, your mind, will and emotions to be fixed upon Him. God truly isn’t looking for your things; He is looking for your heart’s condition. When you restore the proper vision of God, that He is your sole reason for your universe’s existence, you begin to understand the complexity God offers to you through giving Him all your GIFTS. Not just the material but the immaterial gifts and talents, your time and energy. The whole person giving with a grateful heart to the Lord.
Fast. Pray. Repent. Praise. Pray. Fast Repent…these are parts of drawing closer to the God of all heaven and earth, to the Savior of all, the Lord on High. As we go through this cycle, God reveals in us the sin and destroys it. But all the while we should be studying and reading the Scriptures where the God is speaking most clearly to us, and praying in the Spirit so that we may grow in strength, power, purity, and hope. It draws us deeper into the cycle, and we repent more readily. It opens the lines of communication to the Creator, and it helps those floodgates of heaven to flow through us, His people. As a nation that is gleaming to the world the hope of salvation found in Jesus.
Therefore, true prosperity is not found in the richness of the material wealth but in the richness of relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father above. We must remember that the true greatest gifts we have are salvation, redemption, and life eternal that God has given us through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The relationship with God should be and is the number one priority of a Christian because we should be living our lives as the sacrifice, the living sacrifice to the tithes and offerings of our walk with Christ. To only give the material wealth lacks the necessary components for a deep relationship with God. He is looking for your heart, for that is where your true self is. So, even if you’re giving and attending a church, if He cannot see your heart you have turned from Him and are in sin and rebellion. Which means that you could outwardly be doing all the right things but are lacking a right relationship with God because of your reasons for why you are doing ‘all the right things’. Are you doing out of a heart and desire for God? Or are you doing it for other reasons and motives? You could be doing them all without God as your reason, like Israel had over and over again. And like Israel, you will find yourself in a barren land.
An empty and robbed store house means an empty and robbed state of relationship with the God of all creation. If you’re filling your storehouse with a desire after God’s heart, you are filling your relationship with the God of all. It is difficult in an age where everyone is connected to anyone by instantaneous actions to see beyond the superficial connections and alliances that we make. It damages the longevity of a deep, formal, loving and spiritual relationship with God and people. It distorts our perceptions of what it means to ‘know’ someone, and what a ‘relationship is’. True long-lasting connections and relationship are not instant. Superficial and haughty relationships are instant and fall away just as quickly. Relationships develop with spending real time, and quality time with another person or people. You don’t make relationships based upon social networking, true relationships develop through the pitfalls, the downsides, and the upsides, the valleys and mountain tops of life. Shallow relationships develop through the moment, and can easily pass away. Therefore, when we are dealing with our Creator, are we looking at the depth or are we seeking our own best interests? To put God in the way many Christians have, a distant and disconnected being, we have limited His relational value to us. This is where another large sin resides, and is part of why in Malachi 3 God is calling out to a broken and desolated nation. Not only has Israel been robbed of their material blessings, but they as a people have gone wandering in the desert again. Malachi is trying to call his brethren back because he knows the value of true repentance is the restoration of relationship with God.
By spending quality time with the Father of all through fasting, praying, studying Scripture and worshipping Him through song and praise as we live our lives out in the world, we begin to restore and build up our relationship with God and our faith in Him. Faith is a correlation of our relationship with God and is what drives our walk. The weaker the faith is, the weaker your relationship to God is. The stronger the faith, the stronger your relationship is with Him. To strengthen both requires attention and time, like all true relationships. God, our Father, requires us to spend quality time with Him. God moves in the deep, personal, broken messes that are our real lives. He knows all of our sins and failures, but He is slow to anger and is a just God. He is a kind and enduring King who is fair to all (Joel 2:13). He desires to meet us down in the depths of our darkest corners and shine light in there to reveal to us His love, and our true dependency upon Him for all things especially our weaknesses. To refill the storehouse of God, one must return to God fully. Our relationship with God is the factor that determines our spiritual state. If we are dry and parched, there might be something we need to repent of that is leaking out the blessings that God has for us. If we are in abundance, are we being deceived and hiding away our sins?
God still moves through our sinfulness, don’t mistake the power that God has for dependency on us. He does prefer to work through us, and therefore will use all means necessary. Because the storehouse also represents those who know God, and are His children. Through our relationship with God, we are being the lights to the darkest world where God can draw in more people to Him and create a larger storehouse of faith and fellowship. That is why the tithes and offerings are simply just an outward expression of all the gratitude we have for what God is doing, and for our personal and long lasting relationship with Him. It’s not because we wish to be solely blessed, but because we have a far more superior gift in Him. It is the conduit for more and greater blessings to flow from not the means. God is the means and control and power and authority behind all things on Heaven and on Earth. Apart from God, we can do nothing. Tithes and offerings simply reinforce our relationship with Him, and remind us that He is the one who does all. Our lives are the offering and sacrifice that God is using for His glory and that means we need a deep and personal relationship with Him. Pray. Study. Sing. Repent. Pray. Live for Him.
As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” Through our right relationship with God, we tithe our time, our materials, our talents, and we serve in accordance to God’s will. This must all first and foremost be founded on a deep, personal relationship or else it will all be empty and hollow forms of worship. The tithe and offering is simply us recognizing our deep seated relationship with God, and we can serve Him by giving to organizations and people where our money will serve the best and be broadcasting the Gospel around the world. The truly good news is our relationship with God is personal because Jesus came and died for each person. We make the choice to enter into that relationship. Your relationship is the storehouse that God is seeing robbed, and empty. Not the material tithes and offerings, but your relationship to Him. Repent, and return. That is the call and prayer for us all.
1) Your relationship with God is the focal point for all things. Not what you do or how much you give, not even your Church attendance is the focal point. God ultimately doesn’t need your ‘materials’ He wants your heart, mind, soul, and a relationship with you.
2) As our relationship with God increases, we give and serve out of a desire to return what He has done for us. This in turn allows us to spread the Gospel.
3) We are lacking in relationship because we have allowed sin to carry us away. Therefore, we are tossing money hoping to pacify God. We are doing the routine hoping that God is pleased rather than investing time with Him.
4) The fix is praying, fasting, repenting, and drawing closer to God rather than living like we always do and wishing for the best. The best is to get to know God personally, and deeply.
5) Then all the other things have true meaning, and are a sign of our deep, close relationship with Him. This the focal point, and all our ‘works’ become ‘right’ because of the focus. Prosperity is the relationship with God not the money in the pocket.
6) Stop judging your giving as the size of your ‘relationship’. Faith is the correlation to our relationship with God. Weaker Faith, weaker Relationship with God. The stronger the faith, the stronger the relationship with God is. Faith is believing in HIM; and anything else.
7) Aim for Heaven. Stop focusing on Earth you’ve lost sight of God. Restore your relationship with God and everything else falls into place because we are focused on Him not on the problems of the World.