How big is your God? How much do you trust him? On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest level of trust, what is your trust number?
Our scripture lesson from Malachi is a communication from God to the Old Testament Jews (God’s people) through the prophet Malachi. The Jews had been allowed to return from exile and rebuild the temple. But the glorious future they anticipated, their return to glory, had not occurred. God had not yet come to his temple with majesty and power. They had been waiting and waiting.
The Jews began to doubt God’s covenant love and ceased to trust God. The Jews of the restored community began to lose hope. Their worship degenerated into going through the motions and they no longer took the law seriously.
Part of their lack of regard for God’s law was that they were no longer tithing – bringing a tenth of their produce, their livestock, their income to the temple. Tithing was God’s law. Therefore, they are accused of robbing God of that which is due him. Therefore, Malachi, speaking for God says,
‘“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 do not thrown 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.’” Malachi 3:10-12
There are two types of giving; tithes and offerings. The tithe is what Malachi says we are to bring into the storehouse, the Temple, or in our case, the church. Offerings are gifts that go elsewhere, to mission agencies and relief organizations and people around us who have needs. Offerings go to dig wells and translate scripture and end malaria and provide relief for tsunamis and earth quakes.
In today’s world of Christianity, the church is the New Testament equivalent of the Temple. The church is the base of Christian faith and spiritual growth in the communities where we find ourselves. The church is the storehouse.
This passage of scripture reveals one of the few places where God invites us to put him to the test. Jesus refused to do what Satan asked because, “It is written, do not put the Lord your God to the test.” But here, God says “Test me in this!” “Test me in this!” I dare you. I dare you. Do it. Do it, or are you not the people I thought you were? Or are you not the people created in my image, the people I created you to be – people who trust me?
Test me in this and see if I am not who I say I am; see if I do not do what I say I can do.
“Test me in this and see if I do not pour open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
Those are some powerful words. That’s quite a challenge from God. Can God do it? Is God capable? Just how big is your God? Is your God the one about whom we sing, “The mountains are his. The rivers are his. The stars are his handiwork too?” Do you really believe him? Do you trust him?
I love this concept God mentions about the floodgates of heaven being thrown open and so much blessing being poured out that we won’t have room enough for it. What might such blessing look like?
It could be that we would get more stuff than we can store. Maybe more than enough food and clothing, better homes and newer cars and way more money in our bank accounts if that’s what we need. But maybe more of that stuff isn’t what we need. Some stuff might cause problems for us if we have to store it. We’d need bigger sheds, larger closets, larger basements, another stall in our garage.
It could be that part of the blessing is that we would learn to live on less. We would adjust to living on 90% of our income instead of 100%.
Perhaps part of the blessing comes later when we adjust our giving and we see that we have survived and thrived.
Maybe part of the blessing is observing ourselves as we become less selfish and self-centered. And we teach the same thing to our children.
Maybe part of the blessing would be that we would watch our church live into what God has in store for us to do; that our staff would have enough to do all the things God is leading them to do; that we would be able to properly maintain and improve our facilities, sidewalks, parking lots.
Perhaps part of the blessing would be to see how God provides for you – like when you’re not really sure if you can financially handle tithing but you do so in faith and you see how God provides for you in different ways.
Maybe part of the blessing is the freedom that comes with it – trusting that everything you have belongs to God in the first place so you’re just giving back a portion of what he’s already given to you.
Part of the blessing could be in knowing that you are sowing into something that is bigger than yourself, you are part of God’s work in the world to bring everyone to him.
Maybe the blessing is that you experience the joy and satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have responded to God out of faith and obedience. You did what he asked you to do because you believe he can do what he says he can do. You said yes to God.
God says, “Test me in this!” He is saying, “I dare you! I beg of you! Let me bless you in this way!”
Will you give God a chance?