Return to Me…Cheaters Never Win, or Do They?

So now ask God to be gracious to us.
After what you have done, will he accept you?
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
10 Who among you will shut the doors of the temple
        so that you don’t burn something on my altar in vain?
        I take no delight in you,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
I won’t accept a grain offering from your hand.

11 Nevertheless, from sunrise to sunset,
        my name will be great among the nations.
Incense and a pure grain offering will be offered everywhere in my name,
        because my name is great among the nations,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
12 But you make my name impure when you say,
    “The table of the Lord is polluted.
        Its fruit, its food, is despised.”
13 But you say, “How tedious!”
        and you groan about it,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
You permit what is stolen, lame, or sick to be brought for a sacrifice,
        and you bring the grain offering.
Should I accept such from your hands?
says the Lord.

14 I will curse the cheater who has a healthy male in his flock,
        but who promises and sacrifices to the Lord that which is corrupt.
            I am truly a great king,
says the Lord of heavenly forces,
            and my name is feared among the nations (Malachi 1:9-14, Common English Bible).

I remember the childhood chant, “Cheaters never win.” It would go off whenever one person or one team gave the appearance of cheating regardless of whether any actual cheating took place or not.

We seem to have reached a point in our society where we expect cheating from so many people. We expect our politicians to cheat on everything from exempting themselves from legislation that affects the rest of us, marital affairs, taxes, elections, using their office for personal gain, using their office to intimidate others and so on.

We see people cheating in sports competitions with things like performance-enhancing drugs, using illegal equipment or altering equipment, computer hacking and that only is a short list of the ways people cheat. It would seem the apparently old cliche, “If you ain’t cheat’in, you ain’t trying” is in full effect.

Then there are the average folks like us. Yeah, we cheat too, well many of us do. We cheat on our taxes. We cheat on our spouses. We take any opportunity we can to better ourselves, even if it is at the expense of others. Have you ever gotten more money back than you deserved? Did you keep it? If you did, your cheating might have helped you, but it was at the expense of others.

Then, there is also the way we cheat God. In the lesson, God through Malachi, tells of the way some in Israel were cheating the Lord by bringing sick or old or lame animals for sacrifice when they had far better. Do you remember back when God brought the plagues on Egypt? The last of those plagues was the death of all the firstborn of Egypt. At that point, Pharaoh seems to give up and told Moses to take the Israelites and leave Egypt. Moses led Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land? As the Israelites wandered the Promised Land God gave specific instructions for the offering. It was to be from the best and the firstborn. Of course, the Israelites didn’t like to give their best, so they cheated God in their offerings.

When God gave instructions for the tithe, there were those who didn’t want to give. God called on them anyway. We will see in the upcoming days that the Israelites were cheating God by not giving the full ten percent (see Malachi 3:8-10).

Ever since God instituted the tithe people have tried to give less than what God asks. Just like the Israelites of Malachi’s day, when we don’t give the full tithe, we cheat God.

Guess what. God loves you anyway. Now, isn’t that a hoot.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Cioyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All RIghts Reserved

Author:

Welcome to my study. I am an ordained United Methodist pastor currently serving in Sweeny, Texas. I am also a husband to Cindy, a father to Wayne and Christopher and a grandfather to three grandsons, Kaleb, Noah and Jaxon (the children of Wayne and his wife Nikki) and two granddaughters, Jenna and Natalie (the children of Christopher and his wife Morgan). I enjoy my family, writing, playing the guitar, tying knots in paracord, wood carving and spending time with my little dog "Bishop.

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