For part one of this article, click here.
Are we robbing the Lord when we make excuses like, "I don't have enough time to prioritize spending time praying and talking to God or reading His Word"? We must look honestly at what takes up our time. Are television and entertainment worthy of greater honor than God?
What about our finances? We're always saying we don't have enough when it comes to giving to the things of God. There's always an excuse, but I learned a long time ago when I was in the fitness business and the business world, people will always afford what they really want.
If we're really honest with ourselves (and there's something about being honest that attracts God's presence), we tend to prioritize those things we really want. And oftentimes, the things of God are put at the bottom of the list. I've heard people say, "Well, I can't afford this, and I can't afford that, or I can't do this, and I can't do that."
But when it comes down to something they really want, they always find a way to buy that favorite clothing item, to buy that newest electronic component or to afford that special trip. However, when it comes to prioritizing the purpose of God and seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, we tend to give that a lower priority.
Remember, the Word says very clearly "Seek ye first"; in other words, prioritize first the things of God. So often we rob God of our time, talent, resources and giftings yet we expect the best from God in return. If we're offering God the equivalent of lame, blind and blemished sacrifices by withholding our talents, our devotion and resources from God, then we are robbing Him of what is rightfully His, and exchanging His blessing for a curse.
You know, fear and greed are the two main forces that influence believers to rob God. Those in bondage to fear or greed experience little of the blessings of God, but God's Word provides a solution. He says this in Malachi 3:8-11:
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, "How have we robbed You?" In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, your whole nation, for you are robbing Me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it. I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that it will not destroy the fruit of your ground, and the vines in your field will not fail to bear fruit, says the Lord of Hosts.
What a powerful promise was given in this Scripture.
If we stop taking from God (robbing Him of our time, talent and resources) and quit giving Him the worst of our day, but instead give Him the best of our time and our talents, our gifting, our resources and our finances for the kingdom of God, then we will have blessings only He can bestow. Let's give the Lord the best of our time, the best of our resources and the best of our talents and giftings. He promises to work supernaturally on our behalf when we do.
One of life's best feelings comes from walking in obedience to Scripture. The Scripture says, "Owe no one anything, except to love one another" (Rom. 13:8). When a person truly experiences the forgiveness of sins, he makes restitution as far as possible for anything he may have stolen in the past.
One such person mentioned in the Bible is Zacchaeus, a tax collector. In the time of Christ, tax collectors were despised, because they often extorted more money than was required for taxes to make themselves rich. Zacchaeus was such a man. But on the day Zacchaeus met Christ, he experienced a total change of heart. Formerly miserly and covetous regarding money, he repented and became generous. Zacchaeus said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I will repay him four times as much" (Luke 19:8).
Zacchaeus' response to the mercy of Jesus was to make restitution for what he had stolen and not only restitution, but he repaid four times more than the amount he had taken. Jesus took the heart of a thief and turned it into the heart of a generous man. Zacchaeus honored God by giving his finances to the poor and paying back with interest those he had wronged.
Once you make this type of commitment, there's no telling what the Lord can do. I have tried to make right what I've done wrong in every area of my life. I know I fall very short; I haven't always been able to make restitution, but I've made many apologies to people I've hurt over the years even if unintentionally. If I haven't been able to find that person, or my words were not received, I have learned to trust God by giving it all back to Him.
In my personal journey, I have learned the importance of being honest with myself and with God. If I'm going to live up to the Golden Rule Jesus taught during His Sermon on the Mount, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," then I must love other people. I must be respectful and honorable. I must make sure that I don't rob others of their reputation through slander because of personal biases, jealousy or envy.
These are things we all need to submit to the altar of God. It is part of offering ourselves as living sacrifices, which are holy and acceptable unto God. As we place ourselves on the altar of God, we're asking Him to be glorified in all that we do, say and think. I pray that He would give me His heart, even in my flawed, frail humanity. The great grace that He has poured out on us we must extend to others.
If we want to live in a place of deeper consecration with God, we need to realize we cannot project our personal consecrations on others. We must each yield and submit ourselves to the purposes of God in His Word, through communication and prayer, through worship, as well as through making sure our minds are being washed regularly through the reading and studying of His Word.
In the fast-paced world that we live in, we need to give God the best of our time, the best of our resources and the best of our day. We must put the kingdom of God first so we do not rob God of what belongs to Him. When we do that, we can be assured that He will put all the other things that are important to us in place. And we will live in the blessing and abundance of God, which is far greater than anything the world has to offer.
The podcast, "What's Yours? Golden Rule Part 2" can be found on the Charisma Podcast Network or any of your favorite podcast outlets on "A Word in Season with Doug Stringer and Friends."
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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