I AM A VICTIM OF THEFT
Apostle Paul M Hanssen
I have been robbed five times in my lifetime. I’m not talking about little petty theft jobs like having my pen snatched or a small personal item taken. When I say that I have been robbed five times, I mean robbed as the result of a break-in to my apartment in Cape Town, South Africa; a snatch and grab from my car in Lusaka, Zambia; all of my money taken from a closet in my hotel room by a hotel worker in Yalta, Crimea (while I was in the room mind you); and last, but certainly not least, held at gun point in Lagos, Nigeria. I would say that I understand the feeling of violation that overcomes victims of theft. When one’s ‘personal space’ is broken into and tampered with this causes a person to enter a victim status. This place of victimhood shatters the nerves and creates a sense of distrust toward other fellow humans.
Many who read this article will understand exactly how I felt after these events took place in my life. I only mentioned the high-lighted thefts – there have been other times as well, less dramatic and not always as successful by the thief. Nonetheless, nobody enjoys being a victim of theft. Not only are people robbed of their money or other material possessions, but they can also be robbed of their dignity, their sexual purity, their honor, their reputation, and so much more. The devastating feeling of violation can cripple a person for life. Many have been a victim of some form of theft and have never overcome the betrayal, the loss, and the invasion.
Probably most can sympathize with what is written and described above. And yet, very few ever stop to consider who the greatest victim of theft is. As I awakened early this morning, whilst still in a state of drowsiness, I heard these words in my spirit: “God, the victim of theft!” I immediately perked up the ears of my spirit to listen further to what the voice of God was saying to me. This article is born from that which God’s Spirit spoke into my being. He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8).
To the alert, discerning, and spiritually aware person, the above stated verse needs no explanation. The words spoken/written under inspiration through the mouth of Malachi speak loud and clear. In so many words, God stated, ‘You have stolen from me – I am a victim of your theft’. The response from God’s people back in Malachi’s day is still the same today: ‘How and in what way have we stolen from you?’ God responds, ‘You have taken what belongs to me in withholding your tithes and your offerings.’ In other words, you are a thief! By withholding what belongs to Him we are actually victimizing God. There is no greater victim of theft in all of time than God, Himself!
Christian believers, in general, no matter what color, flavor, background, or religious persuasion, act the same way in every country and in all cultures when it comes to money. When things get tough, the first one we cut off is God. But things don’t even have to get tough for God to become secondary as far as people’s finances are concerned. Many do not hesitate to buy or build a new house, buy a new car, a boat, furniture, and/or upgrade their lives in some way, and yet they are so quick to find a loop-hole as to why they cannot afford to give to God. They spend thousands of dollars on vacations, purchasing new clothes, and in making sure their life is surrounded with all of the latest technological gadgets, whilst God and His Kingdom suffer victimhood of theft. People do not hesitate to surround themselves with comfort and make sure that their personal world is secure, whilst the Kingdom of God suffers want because the people of God are thieves.
Then there are those who give to God and His Kingdom on a regular basis, but their giving of tithes is calculated to the dollar and cent (down to the Rand, the Krona, Peso, Kwacha, or in whatever other currency they may give). Their giving is systematic, exact, and without heartfelt worship and love being involved. This is called obligated giving. It is performed with a grudge and/or because it is a must to give. God frowns upon such heartless giving, but He loves those who give cheerfully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Some give their tithes, but would never consider to add an overflow and offering of love, gratitude and adoration unto God for His bountiful provisions. God, once again, becomes the victim of theft. The LORD not only stated that His people robbed Him of their tithes, but also in their offerings. They give sparingly and therefore also reap sparingly.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Throughout the forty-two years of my service to God, to His Kingdom, and to His people, it has never ceased to amaze me how closed the hearts and hands of the church of God are when it comes to giving to God what is His and moreover giving Him freewill offerings from the overflow of love and faith toward Him. I have counseled countless people whose finances were cursed (Malachi 3:9). Many of these individuals made a grand income, but were never able to make ends meet. In every case, yes, in every single case, they all had one thing in common – they either did not give God what was His, or they gave grudgingly and sparingly.
Giving is an act of adoration and worship, but it is also an act of faith. We say we believe in God, but we are quick to demonstrate our lack of faith when it comes to giving. We seem to be able to ‘trust God’ for our eternal souls, and yet we are not able to trust Him to bless and sustain our finances. We trust him to forgive us of our sins, and yet we have no faith that He will honor His own Word when it comes to our giving.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Malachi 3:10).
The promise of God to His people in regards to giving is phenomenal. This promise includes the only place in God’s Word where God actually opened the door for His people to test, try, and prove Him. No other place in the Bible does God give His children the permission to test and prove Him - the one and only time we are told and actually encouraged to prove God is in regard to giving. Giving is an act of faith! However, few, comparatively speaking, have witnessed the windows of heaven being opened and the blessings of God poured out upon them both naturally and spiritually, so much so that there is no room for them to receive it. Why? Is this because God is a liar? Absolutely not! Rather, it is because His people are thieves. Instead of blessing God and His Kingdom with giving, many have victimized God and robbed from Him in some form or fashion. Oh yes, we can trust God for almost anything, but when it comes to the substance of what sustains our comforts, mainly money, we shy away from trusting God and we withhold from Him. God becomes the victim of theft! Many would rather see the Kingdom of God and the House of God suffer want and lack as long as they are able to maintain their own comforts, joys, and way of life. This is the sad reality!
And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:16).
Upon Judah’s return to Jerusalem from Babylon, one of the first things that was restored was the house of God. The temple was rebuilt with the substance taken from Babylon, plus all of the freewill offerings given by the people and the priests. Without the offerings, the temple could not have been rebuilt and the restoration of Zion could never have been a reality. Nothing has changed from then until now. We are living in the day of restoration. We are living in the time of the remnant people of God returning to Zion’s glory. We are entering the time of refreshing as promised by God in Acts 3:19-21.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-21).
The times of refreshing (restoration, restitution) were preceded by repentance and conversion. Maybe we, the people of God, can usher in the times of restoration by repenting of how we have victimized God and His kingdom by our theft. Maybe we can begin by repenting of our lack of faith and trust in Him to fulfill and keep His Word. Maybe we could begin repenting of withholding from Him the substance He desires to use to restore His house and bring His people back to Zion’s glorious mountain where He has chosen to dwell. Maybe you too can hear the voice of the Spirit of God speak in your ears the same words He spoke into mine, “God, the victim of theft.”
When the LORD speaks and says, “I AM A VICTIM OF THEFT”, does it not behoove us to pay attention and ask ourselves, ‘In what manner am I robbing God?’ Restoration must begin, rebuilding must be accomplished, a habitation for the throne and glory presence of God must be raised within us – but without God’s people giving to God what is His, and moreover free willingly offering and investing in His Kingdom, the work of restoration is hindered both within yourself and beyond.
I choose all over again to be a giver. I will lay my life’s comforts aside to see God’s Kingdom raised from the ashes. Today is the day. This is the season! May the refreshing from the presence of the LORD start now.
-Paul M Hanssen