The prophet Malachi and Jesus affirmed giving a tenth

Posted Nov 20, 2020

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Daily Scripture

Malachi 3:7-10

7 Ever since the time of your ancestors,
you have deviated from my laws
and have not kept them.
Return to me and I will return to you,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
But you say,
“How should we return?”
8 Should a person deceive God?
Yet you deceive me.
But you say,
“How have we deceived you?”
With your tenth-part gifts and offerings.
9 You are being cursed with a curse,
and you, the entire nation, are robbing me.
10 Bring the whole tenth-part to the storage house so there might be food in my house.
Please test me in this,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
See whether I do not open all the windows of the heavens for you
and empty out a blessing until there is enough.

Matthew 23:23-24

23 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You give to God a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, but you forget about the more important matters of the Law: justice, peace, and faith. You ought to give a tenth but without forgetting about those more important matters. 24 You blind guides! You filter out an ant but swallow a camel.

Reflection Questions

The prophet Malachi challenged Israelites complaining about God not giving them more. His words evoked their history as “Jacob’s descendants. It’s not surprising that they’re cheating God by failing to bring in their tithes and contributions that made the temple worship possible. The Hebrew word for cheat is unusual, and it’s also similar to the name Jacob, belonging to the brother who cheated Esau out of his birthright as firstborn.”* Jesus challenged their spiritual descendants, the Pharisees. They were right to “give a tenth,” he said, but they shouldn’t ignore justice, peace and faith.

  • Imagine how much time, energy and effort it took a Pharisee to count out dill seed or mint flakes (whether from their garden or from a market) to give one-tenth of them for an offering! Jesus suggested they might use some of that energy better. How could you make your giving, not a way to keep up appearances, but a straightforward gift to God? How can your giving truly be a way to bless others and build God’s kingdom?
  • Deuteronomy 8:17-18 said Moses gave this warning as Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land: “Don’t think to yourself, My own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me. Remember the Lord your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous.” Are you ever tempted to think that God had nothing to do with your level of prosperity, that you’ve done it all yourself? How can giving a percentage back to God faithfully help guard you from that temptation?


Lord Jesus, thank you for valuing the giving even your enemies did. But thank you for reminding me that there is more to serving you faithfully than just giving and then ignoring other values. Amen.

* John Goldingay, Daniel and The Twelve Prophets for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, pp. 264-265.

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Ginger Rothhaas

Ginger Rothhaas

Ginger is the creator of and is a graduate of Saint Paul School of Theology. She is currently teaching “Truth to Trust: Instructions from the Psalms” for Resurrection’s Women’s Ministry. She serves as a Care Minister at Resurrection Downtown and co-hosted the What Matters? podcast. She loves writing, teaching, conversations over coffee, and time with her husband and two children.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert shared a story this week of driving into New York City and having a remarkable exchange with a toll booth worker. As Elizabeth was approaching the toll booth, she felt compassion for the woman working in the booth who was cold, breathing in exhaust fumes, and as Elizabeth said, “dealing with cranky travelers all day.” So Elizabeth decided that when she was at the booth, she would hand this woman her toll fee plus a $5 bill for her personal use.

When Elizabeth rolled down her window to pay the toll, the woman looked her in the eye and said, “I hope you are doing all right in this hard time. I want you to have a blessed day.” Elizabeth handed her the $5 as a gift and the woman said, “Oh honey, I don’t need this, I have everything I need.” Then after a pause, the woman said, “How about this, today when you see someone on the street who looks like they are cold or hungry, give them the $5 and tell them it came from me.” They agreed and Elizabeth did just that.

As Elizabeth was retelling the story in her social media video, she was reminded of her friend Margaret’s quote which is, “When human beings aren’t being the worst, they are the best.”

The events of 2020 have brought out the worst in many people. It has been a tough time to be a human. However, through it all, the inner essence of each one of us is still compassion and love. You are love at the core of your being. You were made in the image of a compassionate and loving God. That is the truth of who you are. We just forget it sometimes. Spend some time this weekend connecting with the compassion inside you. Ask it to come forward and lead your thinking, doing, and being. When we remember what we are made of, things like generosity, forgiveness, mercy, and grace flow more naturally.

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