Posted by: Brad Beaman | August 27, 2011

Giving that honors God

There is a story that comes from Clear Creek Baptist College of the Appalachian Mountains.  They train preachers in the Kentucky Mountains. One of the college presidents would go all over the area preaching and raising money for the school. He preached at Cold Fork Baptist church. It was a remote area so he parked his car and walked to the service. The church gave $300 as a gift for the Bible College.

As he walked back alone to his car a man emerged from the bushes and put a gun to his back. Your money or your life he said. The president said he had $11 in his wallet and he could have that. He told him he also had $300 but this was for the Baptist school and he would have to take his life to get that money.

 The man with the gun said, I am a Baptist too. Here is $11, put it toward the work of the school. Of course this is not a true story. But here is a thief in this story that would not steal the Lord’s money.  Malachi 1:1-14 is a serious passage of Scripture. It tells us that there really are people who are stealing the Lord’s money and they may not even be aware of it.

Malachi 1:1-14

 1 The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.

 2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the LORD of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever.” 5 Your eyes will see this and you will say, “The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!”

 6 “ ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ 7 You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’ 8 But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. 9 “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. 10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you. 11 For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts. 12 “But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ 13 You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the LORD of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?” says the LORD. 14 “But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “and My name is feared among the nations.”

There is a serious tone God uses with his people who He loves. This message is from Malachi. His name appropriately means messenger. He is delivering an “oracle.” An oracle is a heavy message of warning and judgment.  This message is the Word of the Lord.

The message is delivered to Israel about 450 – 400 BC. One hundred years earlier Israel had been released from 70 years of Babylonian captivity by the grace of God. They had re-established their Jewish homeland. The second temple had been rebuilt but religious enthusiasm had worn off. They had become mechanical and lax in their worship of God.

In this Oracle God first declared his love. How could God state his love any clearer or simpler? In both the Old Testament and New Testament this theme of God’s love rings out. That love put Christ on the cross. It takes an incredible love to give your only son for the sake of others. You can be sure God loves you.

God’s love is doubted.

How have you loved us they ask. God has a tremendous love for His people but it is questioned as soon as it is declared. Israel was a weak remnant of what they were. They had been through a lot.

When determining God’s love for them they came to the wrong conclusion that their difficult circumstances meant God didn’t love them. You should know that your circumstances or no indication of whether God loves you.

God’s love is confirmed over and over, Malachi 1: 3-5.

God goes way back to Isaac’s twin boys Esau and Jacob to prove his love.  Esau was born first and would have the birthright. But God, in His sovereign grace and love chose to give Jacob that birthright. There is a mystery in election. But God chose to; “bless all the families of the earth”.

Later God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. He had 12 sons who had become the 12 tribes of Israel chosen and redeemed as a nation.  If you want further proof of God’s love for Israel look at Edom. These people came from Esau. The, “hate” here is a relative hate a lesser love. Israel will see proof of this before their eyes. Both nations were destroyed but only Israel  would be allowed by God to rebuild. God says I will not let Edom rebuild Vs 4. Israel if you doubt my love take a look at Edom God says.

Christian you too have been chosen. God has given you salvation and a future hope. During those times you ask why me, look around see the situation of those who have not been saved by the blood of Christ on the cross and then say, why not me?

God’s complaint against Israel.     

If you were going to deliberately try to hurt God how would you go about doing that? The way to hurt God is to dishonor Him.

6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.

  “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

Israel has failed to return God’s love. They demonstrated this failure in failing to give God honor and respect. God condemns the priests first.  The priests are offended that God says they have despised God’s name.  These priests ask, how have they despised Gods name.

They dishonored God by failing to give God their best. They were sacrificing the rejects. They were just going through the motions in their sacrifices. They were supposed to give God their best. They may have tried to justify giving less. After all they were in economic difficulties.

Israel despised God’s name by giving God less than their best. In verse 8 God says try giving like this to your government. People give better to the Internal Revenue Service than to God. They pay their taxis that are due but they don’t give to God what is do Him.

When we deliberately give God less than our best it upsets God. He see His outrage in verse 10. It is wrong to throw leftovers to Holy God. God deserves our best. Verse 11 reveals the real reason the Jews failed to give God their best and why we fail to give God our best too. They forgot who God was. We forget who God is. God is the awesome God of heaven. God is the great king over all the earth.

They forgot because they were focused on their circumstances. They were focused on their own self interests. You may have gone through a lot, like Israel, but don’t determine God’s worth by what you see around you.

God is reminding Israel of His majesty. Determines God’s worth by what you will see, His presence. Give God your best because of who God is. Twice God says my name will be great. If your heart is cold and you are giving God leftovers then focus on His future glory to recapture your passion and revolutionize your giving. God is worthy of you giving him your best.

Sadly God’s people were just going through the motions in their worship. Vs 13 they were sniffing disdainfully. They were like those who go to church out of a cold habit rather than a living faith in God. When we give God our best there is a cost involved. David expressed this in 1 Chronicles 21. God is worth more than cheap gifts, God is worth our best.

Let your heart be with God. Matthew 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Honor the LORD with your wealth,   with the firstfruits of all your crops Proverbs 3:9. Your giving to God should be your first item in your budget. Giving is a serious issue. Giving God less than our best we are dishonoring God.

We give more to God than our money. We give our time to God and we should give our best to God in our time too.

There is a warning in verse 14. If you make a commitment to give God your best and then don’t you are a swindler. How we give matters to God.


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