Giving God our best or giving God our leftovers?

Giving God Our Best or Giving God Our Leftovers

Malachi 1 

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master.  Then If I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?”

 

            Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets.  He arrived on the scene 100 years after Israel had returned to the land and rebuilt the city and temple.  Even after 70 years of exile for their sin and God graciously and miraculously restoring them to the land of Israel, they still had not learned their lesson.  One hundred years after their return, they were reverting to their habit of living without consideration of God.  The priests were more concerned about their status than they were about fearing the Lord and living in obedience to him. When God brought economic and social troubles upon the land, instead of turning to God, they blamed God and accused him of being unfaithful.  

            Chapter 1 begins with affirming God’s love for Jacob and a reminder that God had chosen Israel to be his people.  This act of divine election was not based upon their worthiness but solely upon his grace.  God had chosen them so that he might provide his loving presence and that they might have an intimate relationship with Him. However, instead of rejoicing in the presence of God and enjoying the love he desired to give, they became indifferent.

            Having reminded them of his love for them, in verse 6, God brings his indignant against them. To express their love, the Old Testament law commanded that the people bring their best to the temple to sacrifice to God.  A God of infinite grace and holiness is worthy of only that which is perfect.  However, instead, they brought the sick and the unhealthiest of their flocks to offer to God.  They brought only the animals they did not want to keep to the temple to sacrifice.  In this act, they despised the name of God and defiled his altar.  

            While we quickly condemn Israel for their flippant treatment of God and for giving God the dregs of their flocks, we often do the same thing.  While verbally affirming our commitment to God, we give him the leftovers of our time, energy, and priorities.  Church becomes secondary to the other obligations and preferences of our life.  We have time to read the news, watch TV, or work on our favorite projects, but we do not have time to read the Bible.  We have the energy to go to a show and attend our favorite social function but are “too tired” to be involved in the church's ministry.  We are never too busy to do the things we enjoy but are too busy to attend a Bible Study. While we verbally acknowledge God, we devalue him in our actions, constantly regulating our relationship with God to the secondary arena of life.  

            The God of the universe desires a relationship with us that sets him as our highest priority.  Just as our marriage can only grow when we put it as our priority and make every effort to invest in building our relationship with our spouse, we can only grow in our relationship with God when we prioritize our relationship with him.  We make his name great when we give him primacy in our time, energy, activities, and purpose.  When we do so, we honor him in a manner worthy of his name.  

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