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The Word of God is eternally living and powerful. It is not like the words of men. It is as true today as when it was first given. It is God speaking now.
Psalm 37 contains verses that, while written thousands of years ago, speak loudly to our time and circumstances. The Christian would be wise to consider them.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
Remarkable! God delights in the good man, in the righteous man. Such a man, even though he falls, will get back up, for God Himself upholds him. He is never forsaken.
And part of God’s promise to the righteous is material provision – to the end that not only are his needs met, but he has enough left over to give to others. Because of God’s care for him, he need never even fear that his seed (his children) will be forced to beg for their food.
The men and women of the world live outside this promise. Their immediate future is no more assured than is their eternal future. They have good reason to fret, to be frantic, and to despair. But God’s people do not share this predicament.
One of the ways that believers of the Old Testament demonstrated their trust in God’s provision was by means of tithes and offerings, as illustrated in Malachi 3.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Please note that the tithe was never intended to be a means of bargaining with God. As the Scriptures frequently state, He has no need of our material goods!
The problem addressed in Malachi is that their lack of giving was a reflection of their fear regarding their circumstances. They were no longer sure of God’s provision. By challenging them to prove Him, God was not after their wallets, but their hearts.
You see, for these people giving had become nothing more than a religious ritual. In contrast, God wanted it to be a celebration of freedom! After all, when I am sure of God’s continual support, why would I hesitate to give? My giving is simply another opportunity to experience His supply. As someone once said, “You can’t out-give God.”
This truth is bigger than the Law, or the covenant. It is an expression of God’s very nature, which is why it has been both practiced and taught by godly people of all times, even by Jesus Christ.
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete [measure] withal it shall be measured to you again.
As believers in Jesus Christ, living after the Day of Pentecost, much is available to us that was unavailable – even unthinkable – in the Old Testament. Ephesians tells us that we are now blessed with all spiritual blessings! This is indeed an improvement on what was possible for even the most faithful Old Testament believer.
Some wrongly teach that these spiritual blessings have somehow “replaced” material blessings. How foolish! And, I might add, how unscriptural!
First of all, that which God gives is never withdrawn. It is against His nature. Men may fail to respond to God’s goodness or neglect to appropriate all that He gives, but this does not mean that God’s hand has been withdrawn. Throughout the history recorded in the Scriptures, we can clearly see that, when it comes to God’s “habit” of giving, He is always looking for ways to increase the proportion. He never steps back, unless man’s response forces Him to do so.
A second reason why material blessings must still be available in our times is that, though we are indeed spiritual beings, we are still (for now) living in a material world. We still have stomachs to fill and bodies to clothe.
Certainly God is aware of this, which is why He still promises to provide for us today. In addition, like the people of Israel, the Church also is exhorted to enter into a joyful “giving contest” with our Heavenly Father.
II Corinthians 9:6–8
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
Yes, God wants us, too, to be free from anxiety regarding our physical welfare, as is evidenced here and in so many other sections of the New Testament.
One point needs to be mentioned, however, due to the prevalence of misguided and unscriptural teaching in the Church today: material prosperity is not a sign of special holiness or righteousness! We have been made holy and righteous in Christ. This was by grace and grace alone, and nothing can add to it or improve upon it.
Nevertheless, God does want His holy and righteous ones to have their physical needs met, so that they can be free to devote themselves to worshipping Him, serving Him, and making known His goodness in this lost and needy world.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Sadly, even many Christians today are more knowledgeable of the price of oil than they are of the Word of God. They can quote the current housing, employment, and economic statistics much more readily than they can quote His promises. They choose to remain more aware of the current problems than they are of God’s eternal solutions.
Instead, let us continue to hold fast to God’s faithful Word.