I am blogging this Advent from #decolonizelutheranism’s Advent devotional, Shut Up. (That would be the sanitized version)
Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (Malachi 3:18 ESV)
So is the day of the Lord’s coming.
What does Malachi mean here, about serving God? About not serving God? He spikes of tithes, of robbing God by failing to give to God all we are commanded. “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” Through Malachi, God says we have spoken against him, called the arrogant blessed, and allowed those who do evil to prosper, and escape their accounting with God.
We fail to trust God. To trust God is to give what we have to God first, to trust that after we give to God, there will be enough for us. It’s hard to do this, as individuals and as a community of believers. We give of our leftovers, what remains, if we give at all.
We take for ourselves first, hoping we will be enough left over for God.
And we say, “God helps those who help themselves.” No. God helps those who surrender all sense of agency, who give up power, who accept that we are always stuck in that place between Pharaoh’s army and the deep blue sea. We don’t save ourselves, we don’t deliver ourselves, we aren’t responsible for our own good fortune. Hard work or not.
Now, Malachi says that to trust God is to earn God’s blessing. To fill the house of God with food is to test the Lord’s promise that he will “pour down blessing … until there is no more need.”
So, the Lord does help those who help themselves … in a roundabout fashion.
The Lord delivers those who trust in the Lord. Not in their own wealth, or strength, or power, or influence. But in God’s. And that is what the day will reveal.