or, "Prove me now herewith."
H. C. Anstey.
Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892, p. 6.
The Christian lives by the day, for his tomorrow is the coming of the Lord. See Gal. 2:20 "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God." I know that God is enough for me today, and if I should be left here for other days my experience in them will only be the same. And I am content that it should be thus with me: anything else tends to distraction, and this God does not want me to have. (1 Peter 5:7.)
Now, in Malachi 3:10, you are not asked to prove God for tomorrow. You do not know that you may have a tomorrow on earth. But you are asked to prove Him just for today, "Prove me Now herewith." And what is the result? Why there is such a wave of blessing from Him that "there is not room enough to receive it." And mark, it is blessing from God. How inclined we are to think at once of temporal wants to be supplied and of present relief as to them. But this scripture may be, and often is, fulfilled when there is no temporal change. The greatest of all God's blessings today is not found in temporal ease and relief, but in spiritual; or what means that wonderful passage, "Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ"? (Eph. 1.)
But this exhortation of Mal. 3:10 has no limit. And I think I can almost hear some burdened believer say, "Ah! is this so? Then I must take courage. If blessing is to be had thus cheaply and without limit then I may surely come." Yes, my friend, it is even so, you may come, and coming to Him thus you shall be filled. "He filleth the hungry with good things." The only requisite in your coming is, that you hunger.
Let us turn then for a moment to this Scripture, for though it is contained in the Old Testament, the same truth is fully unfolded also in the New, as we shall see. God was ever the God to meet His people's needs, and in this He stands alone and knows no change, and He (who giveth bread to all things) gives His people "bread from heaven."
Whatever you need at this moment God is sufficient for. I would press upon you to lose no time to avail yourself of this wondrous fact. God has the power, and He also has the will, to fill your soul to overflowing. But do you ask, "How am I to begin?" Then begin thus: Give to God what He claims from you. Never mind others, or their thoughts. Everything you possess belongs to God, and you are only a steward. But while many readily own this in a general way, it is not all that we have to consider. God has a particular claim also beyond this. He claims a place in your every-day calculations - and not any place, nor a second place, but the first place. That is what we have here. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house." It is no particular quantity of your time, intellect, or money. You may give Him a large portion of these in a legal spirit, thinking you may then use the rest for yourself, and yet be far, far away from the blessing. No, it is not this. To give God His place is more to Him than giving Him any portion. The tithes are His. Abraham gave these to Melchizedek. God claims them as His right. The meaning is, that God must have the first place. Not your wants, nor the wants or interests of your family, but first God Himself in everything. We read, "Abraham gave Him tithes [not of some, but] or ALL." These then are the terms. Place is greater than portion. God will not accept a second place at your hands, and to offer Him one as Israel did is only to rob Him. Think of this. "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings."
Give God His place. I delight to think that these are the only terms of the blessing, because they are so simple that the most ignorant one cannot fail to understand them. And then such is His heart (with whom you have to do) that He will "open the windows of heaven, and pour you out such a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." And notice that He says, "Prove me now" - it is not tomorrow, it is now - it is today. God always deals with the present. "Today," "now" - these are words with which He seeks to draw souls to Himself, and are not you one of them? for I address believers. You have come to Him; but Peter says, "To whom coming." (1 Peter 2:4.) Have you any lack today? - a care, an anxiety, a want - only one? Come to Him, then; give Him His place. Think of Him first, and not of the matter in hand, and you shall prove His faithfulness to His word.
I turn now to one or two passages of the New Testament, in order to trace there the same teaching as we have in Malachi. In doing so I ask, Why is it that there are not more souls - Christians - living day by day in the joy of their heavenly portion? I leave the heart of each reader to answer the question.
How often things not wrong in themselves come in and God gets a second place in our calculations. But in Luke 14 I read, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." These are solemn words, and may God send them home with divine authority into our souls. Could He speak to us of anything nearer or dearer on earth than these? Will you put them, are you putting them, in His place? Are you putting them before God? If so, my reader, is it a matter of wonder with you why it is that you know so little of these "windows of heaven" being opened upon you? "Will a man rob God?" Will he do it with impunity? Alas! no. We know that "God is not mocked," and we had read it; "for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Gal. 6:7.)
I turn to one passage more. "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men." (Acts 24:16.) You notice God is put first. I must seek first to be right with Him. I then trace the life of the blessed servant of God, and I may listen to his experience of what God did for him as a man walking down here - how the "windows of heaven" were opened upon him. Listen to him before the tribunal of the king. Would he change places with Agrippa that day? Ah! no. What does he say? "I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am." He knew the "windows of heaven" were opened upon him, and so great was the blessing, that there was even enough for all who heard him that day.
Writer and reader, let us ask each other, Are we both living in this atmosphere? To do this there must be no reserves. Paul could say, in the full joy of his heart, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." It mattered little to him what his path was down here; he had kept nothing back from God. May the Lord exercise us as to this. The secret of our lack is often some little reserve that we keep for ourselves. May we each be willing and desirous of saying what Paul said in Acts 24:16, so that we may know, in a spiritual sense, something of this opening upon us of these "windows of heaven." Amen. H. C. A.