Consider Malachi 3:8 which asks: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” The Jews, after leaving idolatry behind, thought they were just fine, but their self-righteous attitude had caused them to not give their best to God (Mal. 1:8). They were giving Him their leasts instead of their best. Their sacrifices and offerings took as little time and effort as possible, and so were not really sacrifices at all.
Unfortunately, many of us today would answer as the Jews did here, and say “Lord, in what way have we robbed You?” because we never stop for a moment to examine our lives, and see if we’ve been giving our best. Will a man rob God? Yes, sadly he would, and I would like to discuss a few ways in which we deprive God of what He truly deserves.
Robbing God of Money
The Lord tells the Israelite that He had been robbed of tithes. A tithe is a tenth, and the practice of giving a tenth of one’s possessions goes back to the time of Abraham (Gen. 14:20) and Jacob (Gen. 28:22). To the Israelites, it was a law that a tenth be given to the Lord (Lev. 27:30). Even the Levites, who received the tithes (since they had no inheritance), gave a tithe of the tithe (Num. 18:21-24 f; Neh. 10:38).
We recognize that the laws of the Old Testament are not binding upon Christians (Eph. 2:15 ff; Col. 2:14; Heb. 8:13). The New Testament teaches that a collection should be taken on the first day of every week to provide for the needs of the saints, but that must be done freely and not out of necessity (1 Cor. 16:1-3 f; 2 Cor 9:6,7).
Since there is always a need in the church, whether it be for evangelism, mission work, benevolence, or keeping the lights on in the place where we meet, a collection is taken every week. How much should we give? We should give what we are able to give; as we may prosper.
The reason why a certain amount or percentage is not given in the New Testament is that a Christian should not need one. We should want to give as much as we can, not because it earns us anything, but because God’s work deserves it.
Our offering to God is something that should be planned, not dug out of our pockets at the last minute. How different is that than the leftovers described by Malachi (1:8)? Each one of us needs to search within ourselves more and determine if we’re giving our best to God financially (Matt. 6:21, 33 ff; Lk. 12:21).
Not only must what we give be the best we can, but how we give must be the best as well. God is interested in what you desire to give, not what you feel is being taken from you. We should not be like Ananias and Sapphira who promised God the sell of a piece of property, and because it sold for more money than they had expected, held back part of the price. Thus, for robbing God their lives were taken (Acts 5:1-10).
We should all be more like David, who refused to make an offering that cost him nothing (2 Sam. 24:24). We should be liberal in our giving to God because everything belongs to Him anyway (1 Cor. 10:26 f; 1 Chr. 29:14). Consider the example of the poor widow who gave all that she had (Mk. 12:41-44).
Robbing God of Time and Talent
God only asks a portion of your money, but He wants ALL of YOU!
We are the first-fruits (Jam. 1:18). Old Testament offerings consisted of the sacrifice of animals; the New Testament sacrifices are our time and talent (Rom. 12:1).
We have all heard the phrase “time is money,” which in the business world is often times a true statement. Wasted time is wasted money. Likewise, in the spiritual realm time is just as precious, and we need to use it wisely. Like everything else, the time we have is granted to us by God, and He expects us to devote some to Him.
We are to redeem the time (Eph. 5:15-17 f; Col. 4:5) by doing good works (Tit. 2:14), rather than wasting it on things that are evil or of no benefit. Too often we procrastinate on things pertaining to God because other things seem more pressing. We cram so many activities in our day that we have no time for Bible study, prayer, helping others, or just thinking about God. Work, school, and a busy schedule often crowd God out of our day.
Perhaps we feel like we can put God off because “He’ll always be around.” When we do that and think that way, we rob God, and ourselves, of time together. Christianity is more than 3 hours a week. What if God spent only 3 hours a week answering prayers? Or only when He has a spare minute?
We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). But growth cannot occur if no time is given it.
We all have talents given to us by God, and He expects us to use those to give back to Him (Eph. 4:11 ff; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12 concerning miraculous gifts).
Consider the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30): each man was given a certain amount that he was expected to do something with. Those who used what they had to gain more money were commended, while he who did nothing was condemned.
All of us has abilities that we can do better than others. We need to recognize our abilities and see how they fit into serving God. Just like time, we sometimes waste our talents or devote them entirely to the world and physical gain. But we need to help each other look for opportunities to use our talents for God (Think about what your fellow Christians are good at, and encourage them…artistic? writer? cook? painter? carpenter? mechanic? speaker?). Don’t hold back from God, give Him your best!
Robbing God of Love and Respect
Sadly, the reason why many of us rob God of these things is because we’ve first robbed Him of the love and respect He deserves (Mal. 1:2, 6-8). We do not give God our best, because we don’t consider Him the best. We are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mk. 12:30). This is the first and foremost commandment.
In all things, He may have the preeminence (Col. 1:18). Most people take God and His blessings for granted and have no problem putting Him on the back burner. Many have no problem ignoring what the Bible says, and no problem changing His words, because they do not respect it as God’s word. Many do not appreciate that God created this entire universe and that He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3). Many do not appreciate what Christ has done for us, that He gave up so much as God to come live and die as a poor man (Philip. 2:5-11). Many do not appreciate just how much God loves us (Jn. 3:16 f; Jn. 15:13), and so they do not love Him.
The world is in chaos because man has robbed God. Our education system has no respect for the One who created our minds. Our government has less and less respect for the One who allowed this nation to rise (Dan. 4:17 f; Rom. 13:1)
Atheism is becoming more prevalent and the religious world is becoming more divided today because men have robbed God of the love and respect that is due to Him. The Pharisees even gave money, time, and talent, but no love and respect (Matt. 23:23). That is what God wants, and it is what He deserves.
If we love God as our Savior, and respect Him as our Creator, giving our money, time, and talents will be no problem at all.
Conclusion: Give yourself to God and watch what He gives to you (Lk. 6:38). We reap what we sow (2 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 6:7) Christ has given us everything (Jn. 3:16), what will you give to Him? (Lk. 12:48, to whom much is given, much shall be required). It is indeed more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35) Will a man rob God? Yes, men have and will continue to rob our Creator, but that doesn’t have to include us!
When we stand before God on the last day, one of two things will happen: you will be united with God or separated from Him. If your life comes to an end, and you have been found robbing God, then He will have nothing more to give to you, except these few words “Depart from Me, I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).