On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 25: Robbery and Blessings
“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How are we robbing thee?’ In your tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing” (Malachi 3:8-9 RSV)
The Holy Prophet Malachi whose name means "My Messenger," lived some 450 years before the birth of Christ. He was the last of the Old Testament inspired prophets. At Malachi’s time, God’s people had been brought back from Exile to Jerusalem. There they had the temple and walls rebuilt. Their personal behavior, however, had become selfish. They had grown careless and neglectful of their duty to God. Much like today, a spirit of worldliness had crept into their lives. They were guilty of many vices such as we see today even in Christian communities.
Malachi was sent to the people of God with a message. He was sent to speak clearly to the people about their departing from their faithfulness to God. Malachi was to call the people back to a true worship and life in their God. Part of their neglect of God came in the form of failure to give back to God a portion of their blessings to keep God’s “storehouses” full. Malachi said that failure to provide offerings for the support of the priests of God and their work amounted to robbery. “You are robbing me; the whole nation of you!”
Then comes the challenge. If you continue to rob God, Malachi says, there will be no blessing from God in return. If, however, you fill God’s storehouses and keep food in His house, what will happen? Try it, God says. Just try filling up what is needed to make full the house of God. Then see “if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”
It seems perfectly clear. God will bless those who give back to Him what is rightfully His. And He will not bless those who withhold from Him what is rightfully His. God invites His people through the prophet to test God in this regard. See if God will keep His promise. Will he bless those who bless Him with their gifts? Stewardship is a matter of trust. Can we trust God to keep His promises? If we don’t trust God in our stewardship of what is already His, how do we trust God to keep all of the other promises He has made to us?
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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