I was listening to a Christian radio station last week.
There was obviously some type of fundraiser going on, and the announcer talked about how all the readers should be giving to this campaign. Then he went on to quote Malachi 3:10.
The radio station is one that will not be named (partly because I don’t even know what station it was).
The Malachi 3:10 move rubbed me the wrong way.
Why Christian Fundraisers Should NOT Quote Malachi 3:10
1. God’s Invitation to Test Him Needs to Be Cautiously and Conservatively Interpreted
From the mouth of Christ – do not put the Lord your God to the test (Mt. 4:7).
Was Christ not aware of Malachi 3:10? Indeed. Yet, Jesus still goes back to Deut. 6:16 to affirm that we should not put the Lord our God to the test.
The clear way to interpret these two passages is to recognize the context of both. Without context, these are simply two opposite teachings in the Bible.
In the case of Malachi 3:10, God showed his grace to the depraved nation of Judah by encouraging them to test him. They were, in many ways, so far gone that God saw this as the only possible opportunity for them to return in full obedience to him. Yet, even with this gracious (and biblically unusual invitation to test God), the people refused (Mal. 3:14). For a little more background, you can see this post on Testing, Tithing, and Trusting God.
Let’s imagine that I wrote you a letter and told you that I’d give your hockey team $5 for every victory in the season. Would you appreciate it if every hockey team in the world sent in their stats asking for $5 for every win?
The Mal. 3:10 challenge was to a specific group of people in a specific situation. We fail our biblical obligation when we apply this specific teaching in a very general way to all Christians.
Testing God is a dangerous thing and should not be handled lightly.
In the desert, Jesus said, “Don’t put God to the test.”
So, what should we do? To test or not to test?
The Devil was trying to manipulate Jesus to do what He wanted Jesus to do. He even used Scripture in his effort to manipulate Christ.
Today, we must remember that some might use Scripture to test us to do something that God doesn’t even want us to do. May God give us the wisdom to discern those times.
2. The Obvious Conflict of Interest is a Turn Off to the Gospel
If Malachi 3:10 is a command for us, the function should be to bring about spiritual growth and help us return to God. God used the challenge to bring his people back. The goal of Mal. 3:10 was not to raise funds. There is a conflict of interest and a feeling of manipulation when a fundraiser quotes Malachi 3:10.
Let’s illustrate this.
If I were a wine salesman, would it seem strange to you if I used 1 Tim. 5:23 as a teaching text?
Personally, if I were in the crowd, I’d say that the person picked that passage not for my best interest, but for his own. Thus, Scripture becomes a tool to bring about a person’s desired results instead of God’s.
If a pastor was preaching about Malachi 3:10 in an effort to get a raise, it would be inappropriate. If, however, he was preaching on the text as a way to raise funds for another ministry (and he believed Mal. 3:10 were a command for us), then the conflict of interest is removed and the recipients would be more likely to trust the motivation for his message.
I guess I’m just saying it’s bad form.
What do you think? Have you heard fundraisers quote Malachi 3:10? Do you think that’s a God-honoring context of the passage?