Sunday, August 18, 2013
Scratching the Surface of Malachi
Scratching the Surface of Malachi
It's been said one of the best ways to check out a person's faith is to check out a person's checkbook.
According to the Bible, our secret lives are laid open before God; and that includes our checkbooks; specifically, how we have managed the money entrusted/graced to us by Him.
Like it or not and anybody who likes Him likes it because they want to know how to manage it as an expression of thanks to Him for the confident living inspired by the certainty of eternal life through Him, the Bible has so much to say about money and how it confirms or contradicts our personal relationship with Him.
Just a few years after being ordained to talk about Jesus and Biblical instructions for walking with Jesus, I came across a little leaflet produced by the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention called The Bible Speaks on Money: "The Bible speaks about money. God is concerned about our relationship to material things. Money is a useful tool but an evil master. As Christians we are obligated to subject ourselves to the mind and spirit of Jesus Christ in all our dealings related to money."
Granted, there are people who don't want to hear or talk about money in the church because the Bible is only as big as their favorite parts.
They're not Biblical.
Being Biblical means embracing the whole book and praying and laboring and really trying to incorporate it into our hearts as we honor Him as led by it with our heads, hands, and feet - our total selves as He commanded: "Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and body..."
Quickly, this little leaflet outlines how God's people handle money Biblically: (1) Work is good and its rewards have God's approval (e.g., Exodus 20:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Ecclesiastes 3:13; Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:10-11); (2) God owns all wealth and He entrusts a portion of it to us (e.g., Genesis 1:1; Haggai 2:8; Deuteronomy 8:18); (3) God expects us unselfishly to share what wealth we have; sharing to support God's work and sharing with others less fortunate than we are (e.g., Deuteronomy 14:22; 15:11; Matthew 25; Mark 12:43; 1 Timothy 6:17-18; Hebrews 13:16); (4) We should pay taxes to government with our money and tribute to God with our lives (e.g., Matthew 22:15-21); (5) God's kingdom is more important than money (e.g., Matthew 4:4; 6:19-20,33; 13:45-46; 16:26; Luke 12:15; 14:33); (6) Christians are not to orient their lives to money (e.g., Matthew 6:24; Luke 12:29-30; Hebrews 13:5); and (7) There are great dangers and temptations connected with money (e.g., Matthew 19:21-24; James 5:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:10).
Personally, I'm just scratching the surface which means I don't know everything there's to know about handling money as a Christian by the book; but I do know tithing is the commencement not goal of giving, God expects the firstfruits or first not last cut/dibs when we decide what to do with what's been entrusted to us ("Give of your best to the Master!"), and everything that we are and have must be managed by prayer and effort to honor Him (again, "Love the Lord with all...").
Anything less or Anyone else provokes this prophecy from Malachi: "Will man rob God?...Bring the full tithe..."
Saying Malachi was a "typical" prophet as if there's anything "typical" about looking up, standing up, speaking up, and acting up for God, his message does not differ from anything or anyone in the book - get back to God or forfeit His blessings.
It's how he talks about money that catches attention.
When we don't manage it for God - to honor Him and advance His Kingdom - we're robbing from God.
Let me put it another way.
Malachi, again, as consistent with the whole book, is saying money is one of the best measurements of devotion to God.
He is saying anyone who tries to exclude money from the equation of discipleship just may hear another voice in the distance: "Get behind me,..."
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!