Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings.
The people of Malachi's days met his reproof in a quibbling and self-justifying spirit. Men who are self-satisfied can resist all appeal. Religious formalities have this as their supreme peril - they satisfy men, and prevent them from feeling moral and spiritual anxieties, and from responding to moral and spiritual demands. These men could not see that there was any sense in which they were depriving God of his rights. The prophet puts his finger on one thing. That suffices to prove his accusation. They were withholding and limiting the tithes and offerings due to God's house. How could citizens be loyal who neglected to pay in those taxes of the king which were the very sign of loyalty? "One might reasonably think such a presumption could not enter into any man's thoughts, as to rob God of those things which are dedicated to his service; when he considers that he hath received all things from him, and therefore ought in gratitude to set apart some share of his substance for the maintaining of his worship and the public exercises of religion" (Louth). Consider -
I. WHAT GOD'S CLAIMS ON MEN ARE.
1. His natural claims, as the Author, Designer, Creator, practical Arranger of man's body, life, relations, and associations. See the rights of a man in the house he builds, the garden he lays out, the machine he makes, the child he rears. Of everything that a man does he expects some appropriate form of return.
2. His revelational claims. Israel was under special obligation because it had received special revelation.
3. His experimental claims. He had gained rights, and reasonably formed expectations, out of his pitiful and gracious dealings through long years.
II. ON WHAT BASIS DO GOD'S CLAIMS REST. Not merely the supreme rights of Deity; but here especially man's own acceptance of his claims. Claims are sterner things when they are both made and accepted.
III. HOW GOD'S CLAIMS MAY BE NEGLECTED OR REFUSED.
1. By the delusion that those claims have been relaxed.
2. By the hope that something can be put in place of obedience to them.
3. By sheer listlessness.
4. By persistent wiifulness.
5. But it is more subtle and searching to say - God's claims are now chiefly missed through man's over occupation.
The world and self fill men up.
IV. HOW IS SUCH NEGLECT OF GOD'S CLAIMS TO BE DEALT WITH?
1. Call it by its right name - robbing God.
2. Bring discipline to bear upon the neglecters, etc. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.