THE CHRISTIAN 'THIEF' - by Paul M Hanssen
The Christian Thief – by Paul M Hanssen
Most ‘Christians’ would not classify themselves as thieves; oh, quite the contrary. Most of us are quite good at enumerating the good we do. We are quick to defend ourselves against any form of criticism that may shed light on an area of our lives that may not be as shiny and clean as we wish to portray. The spirits of self-righteousness and hypocrisy are as rampant in the Church today as they were in the days of Jesus, not to mention in the days of old. There was nothing that stirred the Lord more than the self-righteousness and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Jesus bent down to the repentant sinner, He forgave sin, He healed the sick, He fed the hungry, He loved the lowly and the downcast, but, He highly and vehemently condemned the religious hypocrites.
Any sincere believer longs to know where he/she is falling short. Anyone with their sight on the ultimate destiny purposed by God wants to know what God frowns upon and what could hinder them in their quest for the highest that God has to offer. As the title of this article suggests, one of the areas that many Christians need to consider is that in God’s eyes they are thieves. How is that possible? None of us deliberately want to be a thief, neither do any of us purposefully set out to steal. Yet, according to God’s Word, that is exactly what many of God’s people are; thieves.
In Malachi chapter three, the prophet gave a beautiful prophetic message of the last days and the establishment of the Lord’s millennial reign in Jerusalem. He describes how Jesus, the Messenger of the Covenant, will suddenly appear in the temple in Zion. He will come as a refiner’s fire. He will purge the Levitical priesthood and establish order and structure according to the Laws of God. He will judge the sorcerers, adulterers, and those that bare false witness. He will also condemn those who oppress the hireling, the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger. He will be a swift witness against those who do not fear and revere Him.
In those days, upon entering His temple, the Lord will bring a message of ‘return’. His voice will bolster out His message saying, “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of Hosts.” However, many will respond to the message by asking this question, “Wherein shall we return?” In other words, they were asking the Lord in what way had they forsaken Him. So dull are they in their spiritual awareness that they do not know what God could possibly be requiring of them.
Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? (Malachi 3:7)
This scene is so typical of the church world in the end-times. The King desires to come and establish Himself within the temple of our hearts. His Kingdom, and Kingship, must be established within us, within our hearts, and within the core of our being (Thy kingdom come, Matthew 6:10 – The kingdom of God is within you, Luke 17:21). However, as the King screams out the message of ‘RETURN’, return unto me, and I will return unto you, many, scratch their heads and ask the question, “But how, in what area, where, in what manner shall I return, wherein have we departed from you?”
Malachi’s prophetic words went on to explain the manner in which His people needed to return. The Lord accused His people of being thieves, robbers, and takers of that which belonged to God.
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? (Malachi 3:8)
Once again, the reaction of the people to the words of God are baffling. Once again, the unawareness of their condition overshadows this whole event. God spoke His Word, God clarified His position, but the people were ignorant and stupefied by the dullness of their hearts and the unconsciousness of their spirits.
How often has the Word of the Lord been spoken into our lives and fallen on deaf ears and on a spirit that was unaware, slothful, and dull? How often have we reacted to God’s Word with indifference or with the same questions that Israel asked in Malachi’s prophecy? Upon hearing God’s Word, how often have we responded by saying, “How could that possibly relate to me?” “Wherein shall I return? Wherein have I robbed from you? Wherein am I guilty?” God’s response to their questioning Him was:
But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. (Malachi 3:8)
Oh, what a shock! Really, that’s it? Tithes and offerings? How can that be so important? The word ‘tithes’, is translated from the Hebrew word ma’aser. This word simply means ‘a tenth part’. The root word for ma’aser is aw-sar which means to accumulate and to give and take a tenth part. The word ‘offerings’ comes from the Hebrew word ter-oo-maw. This word means a present as offered up, a gift, a sacrifice, and a tribute.
Tithes are a specific amount derived from a whole, whereas offerings are a freewill sacrifice, a tribute to God of one’s adoration and love towards Him. Many mix these two together. For many, the giving of tithes is ‘their offering’. Many give five percent of their income to God and consider it their tithes and offering. Some give eight percent. Some give an offering only and consider that sufficient and included as tithes. You are a thief! Tithes is a tenth of that which God blesses you with, but offerings are an act of tribute unto the Lord for the blessings of His favor. God said you have robbed me, not only in not giving your tithes, but also in not giving your offerings.
The result of the failure of the people of God in these regards was a curse.
Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. (Malachi 3:9)
You cannot rob God and be blessed. That is impossible. A curse follows the robber.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, (Malachi 3:10)
Ten percent of your earnings belongs to God. It is not yours, hence those who keep it for themselves and use it for themselves are considered robbers. The word for robber actually means to defraud. The definition of defraud is to illegally obtain money by deception. We deceive ourselves and ultimately attempt to deceive God by withholding what is ‘legally’ His!
The tithes belong in the place where you receive your meat. Tithes belong in the storehouse that provides your spiritual food. Taking meat from a storehouse for the sustenance of your spiritual life without placing your tithes back into that same storehouse is, in the eyes of God, considered robbery! So, the question remains, “Are you a Christian robber, or thief?”
Tithing was not instituted under the Law of Moses. It was instituted under Abraham and the Law of Faith. Even though tithing became part of the Levitical Law, its practice existed before the Law was ever instituted. Tithing is an act of faith. Many say, “I cannot afford to tithe.” To that God’s Word says, “You do not believe.” God’s command for His people to give tithes and offerings is the only place in scripture where He encourages His subjects to prove Him.
… 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)
Imagine, we say we have faith in God for our redemption, we trust Him for the forgiveness of our sins, and we believe in Him for our eternal life. And yet, in the same God that we trust for our eternal existence, we do not have enough faith that He will fulfill His Word and promise in regards to the giving of our tithes and offerings. When it comes to finances and that which supports the comforts of our lives, we lack in faith and trust in God. This is the act of a hypocrite!
From who’s hand do you feed? From what storehouse does your meat come from? This is the place that God intends for you to place your tithes and offerings. Prove God. Go ahead – test Him, try Him, and examine Him in these regards and see if He will not remove the curse from your life and open the windows of Heaven with a rainfall of His abundant blessing!
…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. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:10-12)
The Kingdom of God cannot and will never be established within the heart of a robber. He will come to the temple of those who have honored and revered Him; those who trust and have faith in Him; He will come and establish His Kingdom in the lives of those who obey Him!
Are you a robber, or have you proven God to be true?
-Paul M Hanssen