Life Outside of Time?

Time is uneven, if linear, for mere mortals.  We do not experience it with the regularity of a stopwatch.  We all remember summer days that seemed to last forever, bittersweet goodbyes that did not last long enough, or your life flashing before your eyes of your last car accident.  In moments like these, the subjectivity of time peeks through. 

God is outside of time.  If He created time, why should His experience and perception of time be as linear and constrained as it (usually) is for us?

If the God you follow is outside of time, could He ever bend the “rules” for you?  The idea is this: God blesses us when we do not deserve it, but he also loves to be generous to us in the ways that we are generous toward Him and to others.  If we give freely of our resources (money, time, service, care), should we not expect Him to give freely of His?

I think of God’s admonition to His people to bring true sacrifice in Malachi.   “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse– the whole nation of you– because you are robbing me.   Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.   Malachi 3:8-10 

I think of Christ’s promise to His disciples.  Instead of running after food, drink, and clothing — what your body needs — “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33 

In this passage, God does not promise free food and clothes.  Do not quit your job.  Be a responsible worker, but remember that those responsibilities come second.  You are more than your job.  Seek first the Kingdom of God.  Live in light of your love of Him and of your neighbor, by His grace. 

We can be courageous in sacrificing time and energy in order to serve others and to pray, even if it means that we won’t be putting in twelve hour days at the office.  But don’t be surprised if God blesses you even more abundantly with what you truly need than if you had spent a month of twelve hour days. 

And we must be wise, knowing that some days we should love God and other by putting in those extra hours.  But we cannot make the mistake of depending on a lifestyle of long hours and our own efforts as the source of blessing.   

You may end up with more time than you think you had.  Joshua tells us (10:13):  the sun stood still for him over Gibeon. 


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  1. RELIGION NEWS SERVICE, March 7, 2007

    Malachi 3:10 Has Been Misinterpreted

    The “whole” tithe never was supposed to go to the Temple! According to Dr. Russell Earl Kelly in his book, Should the Church Teach Tithing?, the usual interpretation of Malachi 3:10’s “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” is wrong for three reasons.

    First, the Levitical cities must be included. God never told ordinary Israelites to bring the whole tithe to the Temple in Jerusalem. According to Nehemiah 10:38 that duty belonged to the Levites and priests. The Levites lived on borrowed land surrounding 48 cities. After the exile they lived in the 13 priestly cities in Judah such as Jericho and Hebron. Nehemiah 10:37b makes it clear that the people were to bring the tithes to those cities. Numb 18:21-24; 35 all; Josh 20, 21; 1st Chron 6:48-80; 2nd Chron 11:13, 14; 31:15-19; Neh 12:27-29; 13:10 and Mal 1:14.

    Second, the correct interpretation of Malachi 3:10 must include the 24 courses of the Levites and priests. Only the older males ate tithes at the Temple and then normally only one week out of 24 weeks! Do the math! That is only 4% of the total work force! And with the wives and younger children staying at home it is only 2% of the total work force who needed to eat tithes in the Temple! 1 Chronicles, chapters 23-26; 28:13, 21; 2 Chron. 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5.

    Third, the word “you” of Malachi is referring to the dishonest priests and not the people: “Even this whole nation of you –priests.” In Nehemiah 13:5-10 the priests had clearly stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithe. Also, in Malachi 1:14 the priests had stolen that portion of the tithed animals which they had vowed to God from their herds. Read all of Malachi. God’s anger towards the priests and His curses on them are ignored by most interpreters (1:14; 2:2 and 3:2-4).

    When the Levitical cities, the 24 courses and God’s anger towards the priests for stealing are considered, then Malachi 3:10 only makes sense when it only refers to priests who had stolen from God. Proof-text hermeneutics cause error.

    It makes no sense to tell the people to bring 100% of the tithe to the Temple when 98% of those who needed it for food were still in the Levitical cities.

    It is strange that the 3:10 of Malachi is so important It is while the 3:10 of Galatians and 2nd Corinthians are ignored. Perhaps those wanting to enforce the 3:10 of Malachi should also enforce the 3:10 of Numbers. Wow! Now that would lose members.

  2. This isn’t about enforcing anything. This is about understanding the way in which God teaches us to steward our gifts. Did I offer the conventional interpretation of Malachi 3:10? I apologize if I gave that impression. My goal was to ask: what if Malachi’s message regarding tithing were equally applicable to time? Even if we are not the Old Testament priests for whom the text was intended (and I am not 100% certain that this was the case), the same principle applies: God has been generous to us and we are fools if we are not generous in return!

  3. PS. Giving is awesome, whatever you want to call it. We are called to sacrifice, including our finances, but should be careful not to become legalistic in our giving.


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