Today's Lectionary Text
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished. Ever since the days of your ancestors 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 anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you! Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. I will rebuke the locust for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will count you happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
A few months ago, as the nationwide lotteries were hitting record figures, I did something I don’t normally do: I bought a ticket.
One of my wife’s favorite sayings, especially when it comes to home renovations or a major purchase is “When we win the lottery …” The funny part is that we generally don’t buy tickets. We’re like a lot of people out there who only want the “big” money of nearly $1 billion, and not the pesky little amounts of $1 million plus.
Whenever we buy a ticket, we lay in bed the night before the drawing and dream of what we’ll do with the money: How much we’ll give to each of our family members, charities and other projects – as well as a few extravagant purchases. My wife usually interjects in the conversation, “of course we’ll give 10 percent to the church,” and I quickly agree.
The trouble is that we don’t give 10 percent now. Our previous church handed out a graphic every year with stairsteps toward tithing, and we were making our way up that staircase, but haven’t attempted the “climb” since.
Malachi 3: 5-12 declares that the Lord accuses us of “robbing” him when we don’t give our 10 percent. He promises open floodgates of blessings, pest-free crops and overflowing vineyards, all in exchange for our tithe. It seems like a good deal.
Tithing puts the CEO on the same level as the minimum-wage worker. Doing it, the verse promises, can make us feel like a million dollars.
Even without winning the lottery.
Prayer for Reflection
Dear Lord, we sometimes forget how much you give to us, and showing our appreciation should be done more often and more gratefully. Amen.
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