In Malachi 3:8-9, the prophet of old penned these words, quoting Jehovah: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”
At first glance, the question, “Are you robbing God?” sounds absurd. Yet, from God’s Word, we learn that the children of Israel in Malachi’s day were, in fact, robbing God by failing to offer the proper tithes & offerings. What about us? Can we rob God today? We certainly can, & we often do so in the same ways those Israelites did so long ago.
We rob God when we fail to give properly to the church. Under the old law, the Jews were to give tithes, not just of their money, but of everything. Under Christ’s New Testament law, we are told, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). The smallest acceptable offering we read about is 10%, & the largest offering we read about is 100% (the widow who gave all—Lk. 21:1-4). Our giving ought to fall somewhere in this range, remembering that the New Testament does not have a set amount for each person, only these principles, which must be remembered & applied: (1) one must first give himself to God (2 Cor. 8:5); (2) one must give as God has prospered him (1 Cor. 16:1-2); (3) one must give cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7); (4) one’s giving must be purposed (2 Cor. 9:7); (5) one who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, & vice versa (2 Cor. 9:6); & (6) one’s giving shows his love for the Lord (2 Cor. 8:24). When we fail to apply any of these principles (and, thus, fail to give properly to God), then we are robbing Almighty God.
We rob God when we fail to worship God as we ought. The Jews in Malachi 3 had robbed God partly in offerings. Along with monetary giving, our offerings as Christians today are our acts of worship & service to God (Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:15; et al). Thus, we can rob God by failing to bring the proper offerings, & this can be done in two ways.
First, we can rob God by failing to bring an offering at all. In other words, when one is willfully absent from worship or Bible study or any gathering of the saints, he has brought no offering at all (see Heb. 10:24-26). One also fails to bring an offering by failing to do what he knows he ought to do as part of living the Christian life. It may be that he fails to take the Gospel to others (Mk. 16:15-16); or it may be that he fails to visit the orphans, widows, & others in need (Jam. 1:27); or it might be that he generally fails to keep himself “unspotted from the world” (Jam. 1:27). Whatever it is, it would be failing to bring an offering to God &, thus, robbing God. Remember James 4:17: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
We can also rob God by bringing an offering, but doing so incorrectly. This was also a problem with the Jews at one point. In fact, God said at one time, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts” (Amos 5:21-22). Notice God’s rebuke of the Jews earlier in the book of Malachi, “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the LORD of hosts” (1:7-8). Those Jews were “coming to church,” but they were not worshiping God properly; we might say they were merely “playing church.” God does not accept leftovers; He will not take second place to anyone or anything (read Exo. 20:3-6; Isa. 42:8). We may be faithful in attendance to all the services of the Lord’s church, but if we are not living as He would have us to live every day, then we are robbing God in offerings.
It is possible to rob God, & it is quite a serious thing to do so. We may rob God in tithes (or, in giving) or in offerings (or, by failing to be present at worship, live right, or worship God as He has authorized). In closing our thoughts here, remember the second verse of our text, “Ye are cursed with a curse.” I don’t think any of use ever wants to be accursed, yet that is just what will happen if we rob God & refuse to repent & make it right. Let us always give God the glory & honor that is due His high & holy name.
[Article written by Chad Dollahite, taken from Bremen Church of Christ (Bremen, GA) bulletin]