Malachi 3:6
Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated Me! But you
ask, “What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?” You
have cheated Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me (vv.8-9).

Business professor Richard Quinn was disgusted.
By careful analysis, he discovered that many of
his students had cheated on their midterm exam.
So he did what professors do best—he gave the students
a lecture . . . on ethics. His message? Confess that you
have cheated, and then the remainder of your classwork
will determine your grade. You’ll also need to take a
4-hour course in ethics. There will be no permanent
record of your cheating. More than 200 students
admitted they had cheated.

God called for the people of Judah to come clean.
He condemned them for cheating Him (Malachi 3:8-9).
The people, having returned from exile in Babylon, were
apathetic in their worship of God and unfaithful in their
relationship with Him. So He made it plain that their
sinning would result in some serious refining (v.2).

The feeble tithes and offerings they were tossing
God’s way reflected their hard hearts (vv.8-9). They
knew that a tenth of the crops they cultivated were to be
presented to God (Deuteronomy 12:6,11,17). But neither
the quantity nor the quality of their tithes and offerings
(material stuff like clothing, building materials, gold,
silver, gems) was up to snuff. Instead of the cream of the
crop, they were giving the bottom-of-the-barrel dregs.

You can almost hear the people of Judah respond out of
self-pity, Yo, God, we’ve been through some tough times
lately. Cut us some slack, huh? Perhaps you and I have responded the same way—
allowing tough times to cause us to offer God second-rate worship and offerings.
God, in His grace, told His people that He would “open the windows of
heaven” and richly bless them if they would “return” (repent and renew their
true worship) to Him (Malachi 3:7,10). And He will do the same for you and
me. No ethics class required.

—Tom Felten

Read Galatians 6:7. Consider what you’re planting in your
relationship with God and what the coming harvest might look like.

How have you been cheating God? What will you do to “return”
to Him?