THINK: Do you always give your best-or do you often need a little nudge to do so? Perhaps it depends on the situation, need or task at hand. When it comes to God's purposes, though, we shouldn't need added incentive. God the Father gave His absolute best through His Son, Jesus, who gave His life to pay the price for your sin. Follow His example by giving Him your best, not your leftovers. In your personal time with God, give Him the prime time of your day, not what remains after you've taken care of everything else on your list. Follow His plans and serve His purposes-and do all you do-with your best efforts. And when you give your finances and resources, it should be a sincere sacrifice. In fact, your entire life should be a living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1).
RESPOND: By the time of Malachi's ministry, how long had it been since the first Jewish exiles from Babylon had returned to their homeland, and how had the people's attitudes about God's plans changed during that time? (See 1:1 note.) According to 1:2, what did people start to doubt? (See 1:2 note.) Why were these doubts unfounded, and what was the real reason behind the people's troubles? (See 1:2 note.) What do you think it means that people would say, "Great is the LORD-even beyond the borders of Israel!" (1:5)? How had the priests shown a lack of respect for God (1:6-8), and how are their failures an example to us? (See 1:6-8 note, subpoints 1 & 2.) What does 1:10 say about insincere sacrifices? In what way is Malachi's prediction in 1:11 being partially fulfilled today? (See 1:11 note.) Who came from Levi's family line (2:4), and what example were they to set for all God's followers (2:5- 6)? (See 2:4-6 note.) Why wasn't God accepting the people's offerings, what personal covenant were they breaking, (2:14), and why? (See 2:14 note.) How does God feel about divorce (2:16), and why? (See 2:16 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you obey Him so the joy of following His plans stays vibrant and fresh. Pray that you won't give in to doubts about the Lord's love. Commit to always giving Him your best in all you have and do.
ACT: Are you in any way giving God the leftovers rather than the best of your time, efforts or resources? If so, rearrange your priorities and schedule to reflect a sincere desire to honor God with all you have and do. Put some extra income toward a church ministry or missions project.
THINK: Have you ever committed a robbery? Hopefully not, though God can forgive anyone who sincerely repents. But some don't even realize the offense. Apparently, God's people in this passage needed a reminder that they were robbing God by failing to bring Him their tithes (one-tenth of their income). God established this principle long ago - even before His Old Testament Law - as a means of providing for His ministers and ministries, and He promises to bless those who follow it. Because the privilege and responsibility to honor God and the need for ministry hasn't changed, Christians today also have the responsibility to support the Lord's work through giving. Tithing is a privilege that allows God to stretch our faith and develop greater discipline and responsibility in our lives.
RESPOND: Who is "the messenger of the covenant" the people desired (3:1)? (See 3:1 and 3:1-5 notes.) What covenant did the Messiah establish, and how? (See 3:1-5 note.) What are the two implications of "the day of his coming" (3:2)? (See 3:2 note.) How did Jesus' first coming serve to purify people (3:3) and to judge (3:5), and how will His second coming serve both purposes? (See 3:2 note.) How were people robbing God (3:8), and what was the result (3:9)? What's a tithe and what are its purposes? (See 3:8 note.) What are God's warnings and promises regarding the tithe (3:8-9,10-12)? (See 3:8 note, subpoint 1.) Why is tithing relevant and applicable today? (See 3:8 note, subpoint 2.) What were people saying against God (3:13-14), and what did they fail to recognize? (See 3:14 note.) What assurance does 3:17-18 give those who trust and honor God? (See 3:16 note.) In what ways does Jesus' coming mean different things to those who oppose Him and those who honor Him (4:1-2)?
PRAY: Give thanks for Jesus' ability to spiritually purify His people and to enact perfect justice for all in the end. Give thanks for the opportunity to honor God and support ministry through the tithe. Pray that you'll always be faithful to give God His due and trust Him to take care of your needs, no matter what your circumstances.
ACT: Willingly and consistently obey God by giving a tithe (a tenth) of your income through your church offerings. (For further comments and answers to questions on this issue, see article on Tithes and Offerings, p. 1254 in the FBSE.)