September 3: Robbery = Withholding

Read Malachi 3:6-12

Robbery.  The mental pictures I associate with that word include banks, masks, guns, and getaway cars.  Even my less extreme mental scenarios include a person who takes something belonging to and in the possession of someone else and claiming it as his/her own.

But the example cited in today’s reading?  That doesn’t fit into my traditional mental picture.  The Israelites “robbed” God by failing to tithe?  Let me share just a couple of my initial qualms.  How could it be considered “robbery” if…

  • It already belonged to them?  I mean, hadn’t they worked hard to plant the seed, cultivate the ground, and harvest the grain?  Wasn’t it theirs to begin with?  Didn’t the profit they received from their daily work belong to them?
  • They were only “withholding” instead of “taking”?  It wasn’t like they were sneaking into the storehouse late at night and taking wagonloads full of money or crops that had already been donated.  They just weren’t giving it.  After all, shouldn’t God just be content with any kind of gift whether large or small, whether 10% or 1%?

Of course, God is right.  Obviously, I am the one with the misunderstanding here.  What I need to realize here is a principle of stewardship.  The things I “possess” in the form of time, abilities, and resources are not ultimately mine.  They already belong to God.  They have been entrusted to me to use in ways that bring honor to God and godly help to others.  So, since they already belong to Him, withholding would be equivalent to “taking” or “robbery.”

Understood in that light, have you been guilty of “robbery?”  Have you been withholding from what God has entrusted to you?  Have you called it your own?  God invites you to joyfully and generously give to Him a portion of all that is His anyway!  Oh, and don’t miss out on the promise He extended to the Israelites.  He invited them to give it a try.  If they would be faithful in giving, He promised to be faithful in providing.  That sounds like a great deal!

Giving is one of those private disciplines of which others know nothing.  But God is fully aware, and He blesses those who participate.