Hoarders, 5th Century BC Style
Have you ever thought to yourself that if you would stumble into some money/get a big bonus/inherit wealth/win the lottery then you would be able to give an amazing, generous gift to help others? I have. I’ve thought about the many people I could help if I had a large amount of money to give away. But I don’t have vast resources to draw upon so… what good will my small gift really do? In fact, don’t I need to hang on to that in case things get even tighter around our house? Maybe I need to keep it more than I need to offer it.
If we ever thought that God calls us to give out of plenty, out of abundance, Malachi is quick to correct this line of thinking. For those seeking to be in right relationship to God, we are called to give as an act of faith, regardless of how robust or meager the supply happens to be. Malachi is written during a time when the people of Israel are struggling–in fact, the book begins as Israel’s charge against God for allowing things to get so bad. So the people blame God for their circumstances and withhold their offerings, meanwhile the priests are skimming off the best of the offerings before giving them to God. This is context for Malachi 3–perhaps we understand why the refiner’s fire is coming. But following the words of warning, we find God’s promise to be faithful to the covenant in verses 6 and 7 and an exhortation for the people to return to faithfulness by bringing “the whole tithe into the storehouse.”
Basically, God is asking the people to be faithful to what is expected of them–to bring their offerings. What does God ask of us? What does it mean for us to give faithfully?
Then in the second part of verse 10 God, in the pattern of his excessive kindness, promises to “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. ” Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? That’s just the upside down way it is with God… the opposite of our instinct or our expectation. We think, “When I’m blessed, I’ll give.” God says, “Give, do what I’ve asked, and I will bless you beyond your wildest imagination.”
This Advent, may the conspiracy be that we give to ministry and to people in need regardless of what we have, and may we all discover what happens when God throws open the floodgates of heaven.
Rev. Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor of Resurrection’s West Campus in Olathe. She loves being a pastor as well as a wife to Ben and mother to Joy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by tracking her down on Facebook.