“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe 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 a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 3:6-12
The LORD is calling His people to repent. That is, He is calling them to return to Him. It is important to notice that tithing is not the main point of what the LORD is saying. Tithing is an illustration and application of the main point – which is that the faithful God is calling His people to return to Him with wholehearted obedience. James Montgomery Boice puts it like this:
The end of the matter is that not merely our money or time, but our whole selves – body, soul, and spirit – are God’s, and therefore we are to honor God wholly with all that we are. Paul wrote, “You are not your own; you were brought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). He said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). That is the essence of it. So loving as we are thinking legalistically in terms of financial percentages and portions of the week we will be exactly like the self-righteous sinners of Malachi’s day. We will do little and think it much. We will resent God who, in our judgment, should do more for us. On the other hand, if we give God ourselves as living sacrifices, then the most we give will seem to be little and we will be overwhelmed that God is willing to use us in His service.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 52
Q. 52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.