How to Be a Good Steward
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (v. 10).- Malachi 3:8–12
Generally speaking, we are commanded to never put the Lord to a test. So, it is a remarkable thing indeed when God Himself makes an exception to this principle and calls us to test Him. This is exactly what our Creator does in today’s passage. Speaking to the ancient Israelites, who had forgotten their duty to be good stewards of their resources and bring tithes into His house, God exhorted His people to return to their vocation of stewardship, promising to bless them far beyond what they could ever hope or dream if they were to obey (Mal. 3:8–12).
If we were quick to test the Lord through faithful tithing and stewardship, we could sit in judgment over the ancient covenant community. Yet we do not test God as He has called us to do when it comes to stewarding His resources. Church leaders know all too well the truth of surveys that tell us that less than 10 percent of professing evangelicals tithe regularly. This reflects the degree to which we struggle with sin and with making the Lord’s priorities our own. Our Father prizes His worship and the education of His people in His Word (Lev. 10:3; Deut. 6:6–7), but pastors and teachers are among the lowest-paid professionals in the United States.
Even the Israelites, however, were not the first people God called to exercise wise stewardship. Ever since our first parents were called to exercise dominion over His world, the Lord has tasked all people with managing their resources for kingdom purposes (Gen. 1:27–28). It is easy to understand why impenitent people do not recognize this responsibility, but even we tend to think of our funds, time, and energy as our own. But if the fullness of the earth belongs to the Lord (Ps. 24:1), everything we have is temporarily “on loan” from God.
Being pleasing to God requires us to exercise wise stewardship. A dollar spent here is a dollar that cannot be spent there, and we sin if we do not use our time and priorities according to the Lord’s standards. We must not waste our resources like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–13) but use them in the service of His kingdom.
Bringing the tithe to God’s storehouse was not abrogated with the old covenant. Our treasures and our hearts are always in the same place (Matt. 6:21). That we might grow in grace, let us consider what our checkbooks say about our hearts.
We want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, but our growth will be hindered if we study the Bible all day yet do not bring our tithes and offerings to the Lord. How can we improve in our giving? One practical way is to make and live on a budget, which is wise even on an earthly level. Yet budgeting is also a great thing to do from a heavenly perspective because it helps us see how we can give more abundantly to God’s work. Let us steward our time and money to His glory.
Passages for Further Study
1 Timothy 5:17–18