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This is it—the text everyone has been waiting for. We have seen that, throughout his prophecy, Malachi has challenged Israel’s worship. I hope that he has similarly challenged our worship.

But perhaps as a regular reader of Scripture, you’ve known that this particular text (3:6–12) was coming. You know that Malachi challenged his people about giving—tithing—and perhaps you’ve thought that this might be one devotion you’d rather skip. I hope you won’t because, in fact, there is a larger principle behind this text than simply tithing, as important a topic as that is.

Malachi ministered to a people whom God had returned to their own land after seventy years of desolation. They were not returning to a prosperous land. The people of the land were hardly rolling in cash. As you read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, you realise that a lot of people had to sacrifice a lot of money to complete the construction of the temple, the city, and the wall. Obedience was not a cheap exercise.

The temptation the people faced—and the temptation into which many of them evidently gave—was to skimp on their tithe to cushion themselves in their economic uncertainty. God thereby accused them of “robbing” him and advised: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Notice the principle there: “Give me the full tithe and you will have no need.” Principally stated, “Give me your all and I will bless you.” The command to tithe was not primarily about giving God money, as if he needed it. In commanding the tithe, God was teaching his people to worship him with their whole selves. Worship was not about giving God an hour on the Sabbath and perhaps tossing a few coins into the offering box. Worship required everything.

Therein lies the principle for us to wrestle with this morning: Are we prepared to give God everything? God is not impressed with worship that tries to outsource certain areas of submission to him. Acceptable worship does not allow us to maintain overall control of the general direction of our life. He demands our full submission. As Dever observes, “Either he is Lord of all or he is not Lord at all.” To fail to give God our all in worship is to display grave mistrust, for it shows that we think that we must stay in control of whatever areas we do not wish to give to him.

Randy Alcorn tells the story of a soldier and politician named Sam Houston. Sam was an ardent opponent of Christianity whom Christ gloriously saved. Shortly after he was baptised, Sam offered to pay half the local minister’s salary. When someone asked him why, he answered, “My pocketbook was baptised too.” He understood that, when God had saved him, he had saved all of him and that he was called to give God his all.We must understand the same.

Paul wrote of this to the Romans: “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (6:13). Notice three things from this verse that are required of those who will give their all to God.

First, if you will give God your all, you must refuse to give yourself to sin. “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness.” Bring your body into subjection. Determine—like Daniel—that you will not allow your eyes to look on anything for which Christ died, you will not allow your ears to listen to anything for which Christ died, and you will not allow your feet to take you to places that revel in the sins for which Christ died.

Second, if you will give God your all, you must submit wholeheartedly to him. “But present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.” Determine in your heart that you will follow the convictions that God has laid on your heart. As you abstain from sin, actively pursue righteousness, determined to do what he pleases.

Third, if you will give God your all, you must carry through on the wholehearted commitment you have made. “Present … your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” It is not enough to theoretically determine that you will obey; you must actually follow through. As you refuse to present your members to sin, actively present them for righteousness. Don’t only stop speaking those things that dishonour God; actively speak that which honours him. While guarding your feet from going to places that dishonour Christ, actively use them to take you to places where he is honoured. Put on righteousness while you put off wickedness.

As you meditate on Malachi 3:6­–15 this morning, ask God to reveal to you the ways in which you have withheld your all from him. Commit to giving him your all and trust him to make your paths plain.