The Lord truly loves us. He never gives us His second best, His afters, or His mediocre. Yet so many of us who claim to love Him give Him what’s left after everything else is taken care of. We give Him time when we don’t have anything else to do. We give Him money after the bills, taxes, and recreation. We give him the part of our hearts not taken up with the world and its pleasures. Even so, He still loves us faithfully. He loves us zealously. Verses 1-5 read,
“The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
If you are a believer, His love for you is something special and more than His love for the world. Compared to how He loves us, His love for the world is so pale it may as well be hate. He disciplines us. He punishes them. He restores us. What they try and restore, He destroys. He avenges us and condemns them. He forgives our sin, and brings attention to theirs.
He loves the world. He loves them and us passionately. He loves the world so much that He gave us Jesus, His first and perfect Son unblemished by sin. He gave us the very best, so that He could die to forgive our sins and resurrect to give us eternal life. (John 3:16). In eternal life we become the sons and daughters of God. (2 Corinthians 6:18). That is only the tip of what He gives us. He loves to give us good gifts. (Matthew 7:11). He gives us spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:7). He gives us perfect counsel, comfort, and protection. (Psalm 32:8, 2 Corinthians 1:3, Psalm 91:11). He provides all our needs. (2 Corinthians 9:8). He gives us Himself, The Holy Spirit. (John 14:16). He gives us so much and we give Him so little and what we give is rarely the first and the best. We give Him our leftovers and still fully expect Him to give us His perfect bounty. Verses 6-9 read,
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord's table may be despised.8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.”
We are honoring the world more than we are honoring our Lord. We give time to God after work, for an hour a month on a Saturday. We can give money to Him if there is anything left over from the bills. We can’t even give Him our trust enough to know He keeps His promises. He doesn’t want our half-hearted worship, He wants our hearts. (Revelation 3:15-18). Are we afraid to trust Him? Is that why we give Him the remnants, rags, and rubbish? We have so many promises from God. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is one such amazing promise we can trust in.
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
If we are not giving God our first fruits (the first cut) and our best, then we shouldn’t bother giving Him anything. The rest is polluted. Verses 10-14 reads,
“Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord's table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”
Consider our testimony when we give God our leftovers. What does the world learn when they see us put $5 in the plate and then go out to eat, or say no to the needy because we put bills first. And consider the testimony when we give more than we can afford and God does as He promised and fulfills our needs. His name is proclaimed as great when we worship the way He asks, give Him the first and the best, and give more than we can afford. And you are not special in giving or sacrificing to Him. If you are not praying, praising, or worshipping Him appropriately, someone else is. He doesn’t need your garbage.
I challenge you today, Believer, give what God what He deserves instead of what remains after you’ve honored the landlord, government, job, and self. Give to Him first, before you’ve scheduled, budgeted, or planned. God wants you to test Him on it. He wants you to give it a shot. Malachi 3:10-12 says,
“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. 11 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. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”