Focal passage: Malachi 3:7-12
Respond to God’s goodness through a tithe of your income. Yesterday I tipped the technician at my favorite nail salon and the waitress at a local restaurant. It wasn’t that I owed them anything. I had already paid my bill. I gave them a few extra dollars because my toes were snazzy, my tea was sweet and I was grateful for their work.
Although tipping is often expected, it is certainly voluntary. When we experience good service, we give generously; when we feel mistreated, we leave nothing extra.
Could it be that sometimes we are tempted to view giving to the Lord this way as well?
To be sure, if this describes your heart, you are not alone. In Malachi 3, when God called for His people to return to Him, they cried out asking, “How can we return?” (Malachi 3:7).
God’s response was to accuse His people of theft. He said the people were robbing Him because they were not tithing as they had been instructed. To return to God would mean returning to unconditional giving.
Giving was, and still is, a fundamental act of obedience to God. God calls us to be givers, and when we tithe, we declare our allegiance to Him. We remind ourselves that everything we have belongs to God in the first place.
When God commanded His people to return to giving in Malachi 3, He also provided a promise. God explained that if His people would live in obedience, He would “pour out a blessing” for them “without measure” (Malachi 3:10). No, all their problems would not disappear, but their land would produce fruit and the nations would consider them fortunate. We do not give in order to receive, and yet, when we live obediently, God blesses us.
We are called to give, but our tithing is not a tip. Giving is not optional and it does not reflect our critical approval of God’s work on our behalf. Instead, our giving reflects our worshipful obedience to the One who gave everything for us. And when we give, we can rest in the assurance that God will indeed bless our obedience.