Monday, December 12, 2011

Am I (Are You) Robbing God?

Recently I was reading Malachi and I really enjoyed each chapter. I studied the book in depth during grad school, but hadn't really come back to it since then, so it was time to return and remember and learn some new stuff too.

The entire book is full of God making statements to the children of Israel, and then getting a question thrown back in His face regarding that statement, such as God: "I have loved you" Israel: "How have you loved us?"; God: "Your priests show contempt for my name" Israel: "How have our priests shown contempt for your name?"; God: "You defiled my altar" Israel: "How have we defiled your altar" OVER and OVER and they just can't believe that God would call them out on, "prove it, God" -- it's so arrogant as you read through the book.

Chapter 3 has a section of verses that start out with God affirming His unchanging nature, how He remains true, and how Israel has gone away from Him. But yet because He is true, He does not wipe Israel out, even though they do not honor Him or their covenant with Him. He pleads for Israel to return to Him. True to form, they question how they can return. God responds by saying, "Will a mortal man rob God? Yet you rob me." And of course, they ask, "How do we rob you?"

God reveals it is through their tithes and offerings (or maybe, lack thereof); He also states that they are under a curse and the reason for the curse is because they are keeping back what He has required of them. He encourages them to abandon this manipulation of their finances and bring to Him what He desires. He knows it will be an act of faith, because He says, "Prove me in this and see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." It is a test they can give God! He promises He will pass the test--with bonus points! He says He will bless their crops and vineyards to protect the produce and food so that they have what they need. And the end result will be that all the nations will see and called Israel "blessed."

How does this apply today? Trusting God enough to not manipulate my circumstances in order for ME to be comfortable, but placing myself in the hands of my Creator and allowing Him the opportunity to prove His glory. This could be in the realm of finances, but it could be in a lot of other areas too. It could be a "gray" area that if I interpret Scripture one way I can proceed in comfort, telling myself it's okay to manipulate my own comfort because it's a gray area, whereas if I am really honest I might have to do some hard things or go through some hurtful things or give up something that I really want in order to really be true to Scripture, but if I do that, I throw myself into God's merciful care, and the He has the opportunity to do something so wonderful i can't even contain it! How much better HIS best is for me (even though at the moment it might be unknown) than my best ATTEMPT at what what I THINK is good for me. God wants to be able to glorify Himself to a magnitude that is impossible if I manipulate Scripture or circumstances in order to have an easier time, or less pain, or whatever it is that I want to get out of.

Is there a clear command in Scripture that I (or you, or we) are trying to rationalize away in order that we can have what we want? Or are we willing to suspend our handle on things and allow God the opportunity to blow us away with His greatness?

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