Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. The last words of God before 400 years of no prophet, no word from the LORD, until Jesus came. Some of the hardest words for Israel to swallow. God had just brought His people back from exile, they had just rebuilt the temple and began offering sacrifices, they had just rebuilt Jerusalem. And the heart of God continued to plead for the same thing as before – pure devotion.
While reading this book thoughts went through my mind about God’s Name being magnified. God’s beef with Israel was their heart toward Him. They brought the worst lamb for the sacrifice, the ones they didn’t want to keep. The priests would even offer it for the people. The lame lamb. The blind lamb. The stolen lamb. All offered to cover their sins agains God. They called on His name with the worst. And the priests offered it for them without hesitation. God’s response was, “Take it to your governor and see if he’ll treat you kindly.”
It’s interesting that a majority of the time the first thing that comes out of our paycheck is taxes and not what’s for God. Our “sacrifice” to God is monetary for the most part. And yet it’s whatever we have left after bills, taxes, and our enjoyment that goes to God. After all, God values us giving Him anything, right? God’s response: see if government agrees when you treat them like you’re treating Me.
It’s also interesting that our time isn’t valuable enough to give it to God first. We fit in time with God at the end of the day, maybe, if we feel like it, and give all our time to our work and family. We neglect the most important for the most mundane. I’m guilty. By the end of the day, I’m tired. Turn on the television and relax. Sip my coffee in front of things that steal my peace. Gaze at a screen of expensive materials that stir up longing for things that I can’t afford or need. Watch people kill people as entertainment because it’s fake, and they’re really okay. Subtly believing every word that most of the entertainment isn’t real in our world…but it is.
What if instead of revolving my day around crap, I revolved God’s day with me around Him? What if evenings were consumed with God instead of myself? What if my work was too? What if the things I did with my kids had an eternal impact instead of a momentary forgettable pleasure?
Then it gets difficult. Even the priests offering the sacrifice for the people had the same excuse we do. “It’s tiresome. It wears me out. It’s so much easier to ignore it and let things stay the same. It’s easier to stay home, to not the kids ready for church. It just takes so much time to get them ready. I don’t want to bother anybody else with my issues and my kids’ behavior.” Man, when did we become so selfish and lazy?
God pleaded with the priests to have some dignity and close the doors to the temple! He said that His Name will be exalted among the nations. And if they are going to associate themselves the greatness and holiness and awesomeness of God, then STOP IT!!!
This post sucks. It’s so convicting to me. I’m a lazy Christian offering God what I’ve got instead of my best. I don’t try and excel because it’s work. I don’t actively look for ways to magnify His Name to be sure the ones around me know that He is God. I just hope it happens.
The question that really frightens me is this: have I led the church astray like the priests?
See, the thing is, God doesn’t ask for whatever we’ve got. He asks for all that we have. Our best. Our worst. Our failures and successes. If we’re not willing to give Him everything, or even strive to give Him the best first, what do we expect other than a mundane relationship with Him? We find ourselves in the same place as the priests – just shut the door…please. It’s like we’re leading God on into something we’re unsure about. Nobody wants to be in a relationship like that. And yet we treat God that way. If we weren’t so concerned about the work it takes to make a meaningful relationship happen, we’d get our kids up earlier to get to church on time. We’d volunteer to do ministry when we know God is calling us. We’d give generously to His causes in the church and missions. We wouldn’t chain our wallets to our pockets, our kids to our house, and our eyes to the television. We’d be free.
God has a similar message in the New Testament in Philippians. In all that you do, whether in word or deed, do it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men.
Maybe these things hit your heart the same way it hits mine. What I see is that I really don’t love the Lord with all my heart. If I don’t love Him with all my heart, I definitely don’t love Him with all my strength, mind and soul. If that’s the case, then no neighbor is even worth my time. I’d end up with great intentions and no action. God would be pleading with me to close the door. If I won’t, maybe He’ll eventually do it.
The greatness we hope for in our relationship with God isn’t lazy. Hope is active. It’s proactive. If we don’t move now, we never will. Get up, lazy soul of mine! Where is your faith?