Summary: Whether we are a good steward of God's provision or not depends on the attitude of our heart. Are we trusting God for all our needs? If so he will provide and bless us.
Money. It’s a hot topic! Most people in the world live in order to make money. After all, its money that pays the bills, puts food on the table and clothes on our back. But it’s also money that brings us comfort because we can buy for ourselves things that bring us ease and comfort in this life: a nice dinner at a restaurant, a new patio set for the back yard, a tv to enjoy our favorite movies and programs, a more comfortable car, the list is endless. We talk about money all the time – some of us on a daily basis because it’s the means by which we are able to live.
Money is also talked about a lot in the church – board meetings, quarterly and annual meetings dedicate a lot of attention to money. But, somehow it’s a taboo subject when brought from the Sunday morning pulpit. That’s why I call it the “M” word – a word not to be mentioned in a sermon. People tend to react with anger or offense. Whenever a pastor preaches on money, what is the assumption? He’s just out to get rich – to take as much money from the people as possible! Unfortunately, televangelists have given many pastors a bad name. There are some who would get rich off the offerings of the faithful givers – and they will be held accountable to God on judgment day.
Despite that fact, Jesus talked about money often. And although I rarely talk about money and stewardship, there is a time to focus on this too because money is a part of life and we need to know what is God’s will for us concerning the resources he has given us. Money isn’t secular – it’s a sacred gift from God and therefore, how we handle it is very important.
As we continue our study of the book of Malachi, we discover God’s people at that time had serious problems with money. And so the Lord confronts them and us with some important principles about money and our relationship with God.
1. The bottom line basic principle about money is this: we are stewards of God’s money.
Malachi begins his message here about money very strongly – he accuses his people: “You are robbing me!...in tithes and offerings.” (3:8) I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being accused of being a robber or a thief. But this is the offense that he brings to these people who worship God.
And they are incredulous? We can almost hear their complaints: “Who of us stole from the temple? Who took from the offering box? Who snuck a couple extra steaks from the sacrifice for his family? We don’t do that kind of thing!” Of course not! But when you don’t give the full tithe – it’s the same as stealing from the offering plate! Why? Because it’s not yours to take.
Psalm 24:1 says “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” It is a crucial principle to understand that we really own nothing that we have. It’s God’s. When we really understand this we can start to loosen up our grip on everything around us that we claim is ours. It’s all on loan to us and can be taken away at any moment by the Lord. As Job said: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:21)
Psalm 50:10 reminds us: “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” Look down at that nice shirt or blouse you are wearing – or that dress. It’s the Lord’s! Now grab your purse ladies – look inside – whose is it? The Lord’s! Guys reach in your back pocket and pull out your wallet – whose is that? The Lord’s! You get in your car – it’s the Lord’s. You go home and look at that fridge full of food – it’s the Lord’s. Look out on that field of soybeans – it’s the Lord’s. He OWNS it ALL!
How dare we say that something is ours to do with as we please when the giver of all good gifts put it in our hands? But we might say – I worked good and hard for that home for that car, to pay the bills. Who gave you that body able to work? Who gave you the job? Who gave you the talent to do what you do? All is a gift! Repeat after me: “It’s all the Lord’s!”
And this thought is a very difficult one for us in this world where we learn to be very proud of all we have done and earned and saved. We cling very strongly to our possessions because they are ours and no one can take them away. We’re naturally very earth bound and clingy to this earth. We have a hard time letting go of things – why? Because it’s OURS – MINE – MY treasure.