The Robbery Incident at Isabella Gardner Museum
One of the greatest robberies in history happened at Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston. Two thieves disguised as police officers arrived at the museum and informed the security they were responding to reports of a disturbance in the museum.
Unfortunately, the lapse of judgment occurred when the guard on duty broke protocol and allowed the two “officers” inside through the employee entrance. The robbers then handcuffed the security officer and his partner in the basement and stole about 500 million dollars’ worth of art—making it the biggest art theft in history.
Sadly, the case remains unsolved. The museum is offering a 10-million-dollar reward for any information that directly leads to the recovery of the stolen art.1
We’ve seen countless incidents of robberies reported on TV and in newspapers almost every day—robberies of banks, jewelry shops, museums, ATMs, etc. In modern times, expert thieves and computer hackers are stealing one’s identity to steal money. Most financial institutions frequently update their security systems to combat heists.
Will a Man Rob God?
But there’s another form of robbery I want to talk about—a more silent and subtle robbery that is neither being reported on TV nor does it appear in the tabloids. The truth is, it happens right inside the church. Yes, it’s robbing God.
During the time of the prophets, the Lord spoke to the prophet Malachi when the Jews were in a poor spiritual state. Unfortunately, the children of God had failed to return their tithes and offerings (Mal. 3:10). They were probably guilty of almost every imaginable sin, worse than that of even the most brilliant and cunning robbers in the world today.
Money can be used for good or evil, and it’s a serious concern for all Christians. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about stewardship, or money issues, in 17 out of the 36 parables.
Three Essential Principles About Tithing
Can you rob an omnipotent God? The answer is “Yes,” when you intentionally fail to return your tithes and give offerings.
Interestingly, tithing is an integral part of biblical stewardship. While God is more interested in the condition of our hearts, the tithing principle reminds us of our priorities in life.
1. The tithing system protects you from materialism. While tithing is an essential element of worship, such practice can also help you to protect yourself from being greedy. It simply means that your faith is not anchored on temporal material things but on eternal realities and on the Provider.
You are reminded that giving is nobler than hoarding. Do not let your possessions own you. The genuine act of returning tithes helps you to prevent worshiping money because that indicates prioritizing God over material things.
2. Balancing lifestyle and financial support of God’s kingdom. Another form of robbing God is by having an extravagant lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with acquiring things as long as you do not forget to support God’s ministry. In other words, our earthly treasure should be employed to advance His work.
Sadly, despite the abundance, some believers drop only a few leftover coins into the offering bag. The keyword in this principle is “balance.” Do not forget to increase your giving, especially when God prospers you.
3. Robbing God deprives us of spiritual and material blessings. Some people decide not to be generous because of a lack of financial resources. But in robbing God, we also rob ourselves of the joy of giving and of the blessings of being a faithful steward.
Would you like God to be your financial partner? Why not test His character? Start giving, and you will see how God will open the floodgates of heaven and lead you to better spiritual and financial stability.
You Are expected to Be a Faithful Servant
There is a story of a rich man who wanted to help a poor carpenter and his family. He hired him to build a house and then went away on a long journey. The carpenter said, “My boss is away, so I can use substandard materials and no one but I will know.” So, he built a cheap and shoddy house.
When the rich man returned, the carpenter said to him, “Here is your house all finished according to your instructions.” “Good,” said the rich man, “and here are the keys and the deed. It is yours. I am giving you this house to live in.” Over the years, the carpenter grieved for using cheap materials for he had only cheated himself.
Failure to return the tithes and give offerings may not ruin your relationship with God right away, but such an act can gradually weaken your faith in Him. If you find yourself worried about the future because of financial problems and have failed to return your tithes and offerings, why not test Him now?
My favorite author, Ellen White, once said, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”2
True wealth consists of what God has entrusted to you—health, work, family, money, skills, and talents, etc. Seek financial wisdom from the Scriptures and begin to acknowledge that the Lord owns everything.
Written by JUN AMPARO, the author of OMG! OFW’s Money Is Gone: Practical Tips on How to Be Wise With Your Hard-earned Money. He is also a founder of www.richlyblessedtoday.com, a blog about financial education dedicated to fellow OFWs. Presently, he’s writing his second book about marriage relationship.