Go Ahead, Put God to the Test

By Rev William T. Golson, Jr.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” – Malachi 3:10

For some the bill of choice at church is the one-dollar bill. Most people when asked to give, if they think in terms of paper money, first think of the dollar. One has to wonder about a person who continually expresses their trust in God by giving little more than the cost of Pepsi or an order of fries.

We are called to wonder how much of what is wrong in our homes, how much of what is wrong with our finances, how much of what is wrong with our relationships is the result of robbing God? In this passage, we are issued a challenge to put God to the test. The decision is ours to make, we rob God, or we trust him. What will you decide to do today?

How Are We To Return? “Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, `How are we to return?'” (vs. 7). Malachi calls the people to reflect on their history. From the time of the exodus out of Egypt, there had been a history of falling into and away from the Lord. In spite of having heard and knowing the law, the people appear to have no idea how to return to God. Trying to put on innocent faces, the people asked, How are we to return? Just what do you want us to do? However, they knew-or if they did not know, they should have known.

The question of how to get into, or back into relationship with God plagues many. Nearly two thousand years after the gospel of grace was first proclaimed, people are still inclined to think that their good works will gain them a place in Heaven. The non-Christian who is honest, hard-working, fair, and generous finds it difficult to understand why these traits are not enough to earn eternal life. We must show such a person that God’s holy nature makes it impossible for Him to overlook any sin. Only moral perfection could earn any person a place in Heaven, and even the most upstanding individual must admit to falling short of such perfection. So the answer to, “What’s wrong with the way I live?” is, “You are not good enough to get into Heaven.” However, Jesus Christ is good enough, and His perfect sacrifice opens a way for us-a way of grace. In the next verse, we see God’s answer to the people’s question. He told them exactly what He meant.

The Charge and Result of Robbery. “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, `How do we rob you?’ ” In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse–the whole nation of you–because you are robbing me” (vs. 8, 9). Malachi declares the way to return is to give to God what is rightfully his. Here for the people it is a matter of tithes and offerings.

Again, the people tried to pretend that they were innocent: Wherein have we robbed you? “What do you mean? Tell us how we have robbed you.” And the Lord answered in the plainest of terms: In tithes and offerings. Israel was accused of being a thief. Robbing other people was bad enough, but only a fool would try to rob God. Yet this was the charge against Israel. Clearly the Law declared that a tithe, or a tenth, of the produce of the land belonged to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30), and was to be used to support both priests and Levites. The tithes brought to God’s house were to support the Levites (Numbers 18:24, 33, 31), whose work included teaching, leading in worship, and taking care of the temple. The Levites in turn gave a tithe of what they received to the priests (Numbers 18:25-28).

While the word “offerings” may refer to offerings in general, it seems to refer here to those portions of the tithes designated for the priests. If the Levites and priests did not receive the tithes and offerings, they would have to turn to other means of supporting themselves. As a result, the temple ministry would suffer. If a man used any of the tithes or offerings for himself, he was robbing God by taking that which He had designated to be used in a particular way.

Will a man rob God? The very idea seems unthinkable. When we eat out, most of us expect to tip the server 10 or 15 percent. We don’t want the server to think us cheap, or, we recognize that a good portion of their pay comes from tips. Yet, when we suggest 10 percent as a minimum church offering, some folks are alarmed. Maybe it is because we don’t think that we have received any benefit.

The Scriptures tell us that God provides “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). He “giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). From Him we have “life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). Simple gratitude should keep us from taking anything from the great Giver who has bestowed so much upon us. And if we lack a sense of gratitude, ‘then’ fear should keep us from robbing God, for no robbery can be bidden from Him (Jeremiah 16:17, 1,8).

God’s Promise of Blessing. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.” (vs. 10-12)

When God invited the people to prove, or test Him, to see if His promise was true he was referring to their crops and lack of full production. His promise to them could easily be tested. If the people acted honestly with God, the next harvest would provide the proof. The widows of heaven would pour forth enough rain to mature the grapes and other fruits. From Heaven would also come the control of various pests, such as locusts, and any plant diseases. The harvest would be abundant, and the nine-tenths kept by honest men would prove to be much more than the ten-tenths kept by robbers. The shortage of food would be ended; there would be no shortage except a shortage of space to store the huge harvest.

When it was originally given, this promise spoke of abundant rain that would contribute to a bountiful harvest. We can all appreciate what rain can do to a parched field, garden, or lawn. It quickly transforms brown, withering plants into green, growing ones. We are reminded that if we are faithful to God, He will refresh the dryness of our souls and make us grow again if we have been stagnant. In addition, the idea that God pours out his blessings is encouraging. It has often been stated that no one can out give God. He responds to our small sacrifices of money, time, and effort by pouring out good things upon us.

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The story is told of the man who bugged his pastor for something to do. It was told that he was not too well-educated and his manner was somewhat crude and rough, but he became a Christian and was on fire for the Lord. He constantly pestered his pastor to help him be of some genuine service to his church. In desperation, the pastor gave him a list of ten people, saying, “These are members who seldom attend services; some are prominent men of the city. Contact them any way you can and try to get them to be more faithful. Use the church stationery to write letters if you want, but get them back in church.” He accepted the challenge with enthusiasm. About three weeks later, a letter arrived from a prominent physician, whose name was on the list. In the envelope was a one thousand dollar check and a note: “Dear Pastor: Enclosed is my check to make up for my missed offerings. I’m sorry for missing worship so much, but be assured I am going to be present every Sunday from now on and will not by choice miss services again. Sincerely, M. B. Jones, M.D. P.S. Would you kindly tell your secretary that there is only one t in dirty and no c in skunk.” It is not by guilt that you should give, nor is it by having received some degrading letter, but because you recognize that it is your spiritual responsibility. When you fail to give God what rightly belongs to him. When you rob God in the matter of your tithes and offerings, you miss a blessing.

If you really want to see things blossom and grow in your house you need to position yourself to see the windows of heaven open and pour you out a blessing. You can only do that if you are obedient to God. When we fail to give in support of the ministry, we effectively rob God and sequester the blessing that we would have received of him. When we trust him in the matter of our giving we will find that manifold blessings will be released and God will guard over and protect what have. Go ahead-put God to the test!

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