When It’s Okay To Test God
Bring all the tithes (the tenth) into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you [so great] a blessing until there is no more room to receive it.
Our faith in God shouldn’t be left in a devotional notebook or in the pew on Sunday. It should make a difference in the most basic areas of our lives- relationships, purpose, and money. Many of us gladly read the Bible and sing hymns, but we want to keep God out of our finances. That’s my business, we think, but seldom say to Him.
Our perspectives about money, though, cut to the heart of our values, purposes and provisions, and about our relationship with Him. We are told to avoid testing God as a general rule because it demonstrates a lack of faith, but God invites us to test Him in our use on money.
Generosity is the hallmark of true faith, and God promises that He will reward generosity by opening the windows of heaven to pour our blessings on us! Will we take Him at His word?
Some Bible teachers say that blessings are always “in kind”; that is, God rewards us financially for our generous giving of our money to His work. Others say that God has many different ways to bless His generous children. Either way, the promise is that we’ll feel enormously blessed if we open our hearts and our wallets to give gladly and liberally to God’s mission.
The only reason we would fail to capitalize on this “sure thing” is that we simply don’t believe God is trustworthy to fulfill His promise.
If we pack our measures down and run them over, that’s the way they will come back. This applies to all areas of life, material, spiritual, and emotional. The evidence is overwhelming- those who give more, get more.
In the wilderness, Jesus said to the devil when the devil was trying to get Him to jump from the pinnacle of the temple, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.” Much of scripture warns us not to tempt or to test God. The uniqueness of Malachi 3:10, then ought to get our attention. In this single place, God is inviting us to test Him, to let Him prove Himself to us, and it’s interesting that the subject is our money.
Paul, writing to the young pastor Timothy told him and us that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Many people leave out “the love of,” and say that it is money that is the root of evil. We are all familiar with the stories of families dividing over an inheritance. We know from the news that those who have little want those who have much to share with them. What then is God getting at in this invitation to test Him with our financial resources?
We are told that we should give so there are funds to provide ministry, to help the needy, and to have a facility in which to gather. There are many appeals made, both by the church and the community for our financial resources. Most of them have merit. But why does God invite us to give when He has unlimited resources and especially why does He invite us to test Him when He forbids us testing Him in the other areas of our lives?
In the verses preceding our text verse, it appears that God is engaged with His people and they are begrudgingly participating in worship. Here’s the conversation:
“Yet from the days of your fathers you have turned away from My statutes and ordinances 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?’ “Your words have been harsh against Me,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. What profit is it if we keep His ordinances, and walk around like mourners before the Lord of hosts? So now we call the arrogant happy and blessed. Evildoers are exalted and prosper; and when they test God, they escape [unpunished].’”
Malachi 3: 7, 13-17
It appears that the Israelites have left God and have been serving idols and false gods. They have sought success and blessings from other sources. Jeremiah says it this way:
“For My people have committed two evils:They have abandoned (rejected) Me,The fountain of living water,And they have carved out their own cisterns,Broken cisternsThat cannot hold water.”
So through Malachi, the people are called to return to God and in response to their question of how, God says that they are to bring their tithe(tenth) to the house of God as an act of obedient worship. What God is after it that we learn to trust Him with our whole lives. Since money represents our time and talents, it is the medium of transfer. We don’t give because God or the church requires us to. We give because we first acknowledge that every resource we have comes from God and second because we trust the God who provided those resources to also provide for our present and future needs. Generous givers are those who are confident in the generosity of God. When we hold tight to our resources, whether as individuals or churches, we do so from fear of lack. The lesson the Israelites had to learn in the wilderness was that God would daily supply their need- manna on the ground and water from a rock. When we choose the way of trust, it opens up the window of blessing(Malachi 3:10). Jesus told us that when we put the kingdom first, that everything we needed would be added to us.
There is a story in the Old Testament of a widow woman who only had enough flour and oil to make herself and her son a last meal before starvation. The prophet happened by her house about that time and enquired whether she might make him a small cake of bread. She would be glad to do so, but there was no extra. However, she decided to make the prophet a cake of bread first. I’m sure she thought that she and her son was now an additional meal nearer starvation. But when she turned to the flour barrel, there was still a little flour there- just enough to make another little cake of bread. When she turned up the cruise of oil, enough ran out. She and her son ate too. And because she had given first, that flour barrel and that cruise of oil had a little bit in them every day. Like the manna from Heaven, God replenished it daily.
Some people give expecting a big return instantly, but if that happened, most people would trust in the return rather than in the Giver. Most of us need God to give us just enough so that we will keep giving and trusting.
We may not ever become extremely well-off, but I can say with David, “I was young and now I am old. I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging bread.”
I know we can trust God! But can He trust you? Why don’t you make today the day that you test God with your finances and see if He will not open a window of blessing over you?
Dr. John Thompson