Song: To My Knees
Artist: Hillsong Young & Free
6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 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. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes
Malachi’s a tough read. The people of God – chosen and loved by Him – are in a bad way. This moment in the history of their relationship with God is less outright idolatry, and more just dead orthodoxy. They are, in a sense, just going through the motions.
It’s like when I’m playing with my daughters. Maybe we’re reading a book. Maybe we’re having a tea party. Maybe we’re singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.” They always know when my heart’s not in it. Maybe I’m less animated. Maybe I push the tempo a little, you know, so we can speed to the end. Maybe I skip a verse. They’re only three, but they’ve got a remarkably keen sense for the difference between the real thing…and dead orthodoxy. And they always want the former, and never let me get away with the latter.
And that’s exactly the state of things with the people of God in Malachi. Their hearts aren’t in it. Any of it. Worship (Mal 1). Marriage (ch 2). Tithing (Mal 3). None of it. All ways God had given them to express their distinctiveness as His people – to express their response to His love in obedience – and they’ve all devolved into empty formalism. It’s all head, shoulders, knees, and toes…but no heart.
It’s a striking contrast to the passage we read yesterday. Listen to Paul’s description of the people of God in 2 Corinthians 8:2-3 –
“for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord…”
Look what happens when the heart is in it. When the heart is in it, affliction, extreme poverty, and insufficient means are no match for generosity!
But when it’s all head, shoulders, knees and toes? Well, we’re back to Malachi. Drought (v 10), pestilence, crop failure (v 11) – they’re “afflictions” that become excuses for negligence. For selfishness. For ignoring the call to generosity. For just going through the motions.
My invitation to you today? Engage your heart.
Remember Malachi 1:1 –
“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
Remember 2 Corinthians 8:9 –
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes…and hearts.
Engage your heart. Remember His love for you. And here’s my hunch. Reflecting on His generosity? It’s going to change how you engage with this week’s prayer: God, what are you asking me to give?