A Test in Two Directions
A Test in Two Directions (2)
Most of us have grown up being taught that it was wrong to test God. We hear the words of Deuteronomy 6:16: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” At Massah, the people were complaining that God had broght them out into the dessert to die. But the word there seems to be “testing” in the sense of a temper tantrum. Remember how the kids sometimes would scream in the store until they got what they wanted? The context and the word seem to suggest that kind of testing. Exasperation!!
Now we read the words of Malachi and he reports God as saying, “Bring the tithe into the storehouse…and put me to the test.” What’s the difference? As I said about the Deuteronomy passage, that is a temper tantrum. Here it is the loving rebuke of a God who wants to do for his children if given the chance.
When the children were young, and in Wal-Mart threw that temper tantrum, we hear, and may have said ourselves, “Don’t you try me. You’re testing my patience.” Exasperation: Is a good word. Later as they grow and need help but were afraid to ask for help, we say, “ IF you think I don’t love you try me.” In other words, ask something from me and I will do it.
That is what is going on here in Malachi. Israel was saying that God didn’t love them anymore and that he had given up on them. And God’s response was: “Try me and see.”
I think here is the test that goes in both directions. During the times of disillusionment, God was testing their willingness to be faithful to the covenant. What he was offering them was an opportunity to test him in return. God is telling them, and us, that he can be trusted to fulfill his part of the covenant. God has pledged faithfulness on his part; he wants us to pledge the same as well.
The third thing we ask of people who want to be members is they support the ministries of the church by their prayers, presence, gifts and then service.
I know we live in times of rising gas prices, our retirement taking a hit because of the stock market (mine took a hit) and the ripple effect that has on the total economy. We seem content to live in the world of scarcity and fear. In our post 911 world nothing seems certain and sure any longer. But we need to live in the realm of God’s promise.
Even in times like this, God is testing the genuineness of our love. God is testing the firmness of our commitment. Will we allow him to prove his love for us? Will we allow God to be God even in the area of our finances?
God’s complaint in the charge of robbery, was not only were they hording, but they were not allowing God to be God in their lives.
Do we trust God enough to test him in this manner? By testing God in this manner, we are teaching our children to trust, we are ensuring the future of our ministries to the community, and we are affirming that God is indeed God.