Focal Passages: Malachi 2:7-3:12
When an enjoyable task becomes wearisome, we’re probably not doing it correctly. I’ve always struggled to have good form as a swimmer. Consequently, I’ve never enjoyed swimming very much because for me it’s work and not relaxation. While serving the Lord doesn’t always give us comfort or relaxation, it should always bring joy to our hearts. If we sink into “Gloom, Despair, and Agony, O Me” as our Christian theme song, we’ve obviously lost the joy of serving the Lord. Just as a flawed piece of glass gives a distorted view, a sinful life will be marked by a warped view of the high calling of serving Christ. If we take up this attitude we must pray with David, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Psalm 51:12a).
Malachi declared that God, as a result of His mercy, would not destroy His people but would refine them and cleanse them so that they would once again bring glory to Him. Revival would come via repentance.
As a loving parent, God loves His children even in their disobedience and blesses them with undeserved mercy instead of wrath. Yet God’s love is not a license for sin. The people of God must show through repentance that they belong to Him.
Israel showed its lack of repentance by robbing God. Cheating on your income taxes is easier to conceal than walking out of the grocery store with a stolen ham, but it is still theft. Christians can attempt to cover their spiritual robbery by saying, “I gave an offering,” when they actually gave God the unwanted leftovers. We can rob God through a variety of means, including keeping money, time, or gifts that should be used for His glory.
When we meditate on Paul’s plea to present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), we realize that God owns all we possess.
Consequently, as Randy Alcorn says, the tithe is the floor, not the ceiling. Any time we cling to possessions we forget that the church should be characterized by self-denial and a willingness to give up everything to serve Christ.