By Patrick Hawthorne
In continuing my thoughts on the Book of Malachi, we come to an interesting passage in chapter 3, verse 8-12. It reads,
8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (NLT).
For days I have been bothered about Malachi 3:8, “Yet you have cheated me.” Or, as the New King James Version has written, “You have robbed me.” Of course, this was met with, “What do you mean? How and when have we cheated you?” Knowing that the Lord desired for me to learn a valuable lesson, I meditated on this verse until I felt that I was arriving at an answer.
“You have robbed Me!” The word ‘robbed’ implies something that is gibbous – something that is somewhat hidden but apparently round or convex. An example would be a crescent moon. Even though part of the moon is hidden by a shadow, it is apparent the moon is round. The figurative form of the word means to hide or deceive.
Apparently the hearts of the nation of Israel was gibbous. Just enough of their heart was exposed so that the appearance of honoring the Lord was evident to those peering in from the outside. Yet, from the God who looks from the inside out – who peers through the heart – they were only deceiving themselves.
“You have cheated Me.” But you ask, “What do you mean we have cheated You?” The people honestly thought they were right with the Lord. They were going through the motions. They were somewhat honoring the Lord with some of their tithes and offerings. They were good…right?
“You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.” Israel was cursed with a curse for not bringing the entirety of their tithe unto the Lord. They had missed the most important part… Love and honor for the Lord. “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruit of all your increase…” (Proverbs 3:9)
This is not to say that God had cursed them. They had cursed themselves by blocking the flow of His grace to them. See how God says, “Put Me to the test.” God, true to His opening statement in chapter one, “I have loved you,” wanted to prove His love through His grace. Yet, they were robbing Him of the opportunity to bless them. This is proven out in the New Testament.
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 bold/underline/color mine)
This post was not intended to be a debate on tithing or not tithing. You do as you wish. Actually, this post is more about approaching the Lord with a whole heart, no matter what we do. However, in keeping with the theme, “As for me and my house, we will honor the Lord with the tithe knowing that He is able to make all grace abound toward us, that my family always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. We will tithe because God has loved us and we love Him. Be blessed.