The last book of the Old Testament is the book of Malachi. In this book the prophet warned the people of Israel that they needed to turn back to God. Although there may not be many modern sermons from the book still is applicable to us today. Malachi teaches an important lesson in chapter one verses 6-14 on what we are giving to God.
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name? ’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you? ’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.
And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.” Malachi 1:6-14
As we see from the text, Israel was giving blemished sacrifices to God. If you you have studied the Law of Moses then you know Israel was commanded to give an unblemished lamb, a holy God requires a perfect sacrifice (Leviticus 23:12). Israel had become guilty of giving injured lambs, stolen lambs, blemished lambs, and so on in their sacrifice. Their sacrifice was not actually a sacrifice, it cost them nothing. You see, for something to be a sacrifice it requires giving up something we want or need, if what we give isn’t a sacrifice to us we are not giving God our best. A sacrifice cost something. Worst than that Israel didn’t see why it was such a big deal that they were essentially giving God their leftovers instead of their best. Before we shake our heads at Israel we must ask this question: are we not guilty of the same? We we not also guilty of filling our lives up with non-meaningful, superficial things that do not matter when it comes to eternity?
During my summers in college I worked for a Christian missions camp. On the third day of camp we took up a missions offering to go overseas to support missions around the world. Students would walk up front and put their money in the basket as an act of worship. One year a girl did something different that really stood out to me. She walked up front and instead of putting money in the basket she looked at it, and then stepped in it. This symbolic sign was her proclaiming, “God I do not have money to give, but I will give you my life.” How profound! Are we giving God our lives? Are we proclaiming with our lives that nothing is more important that God, and what He commands? Are we living for His glory and to make His name known unto the ends of the earth?
The value of what we give is determined by the value it is to us. If it is not of much value to us, then it will not be to God. Giving God one Sunday every few months, a quiet time every so often is not giving God much. Do we take what God says seriously? What Israel was giving displeased God. We think when simply by giving we are earning right favor before God. Here we see it is not that we give, but how and what we give. Are we sacrificing things to God, or sacrificing God for things?
Read the text again and look to how God responds to Israel. He did not want their worship because it was not a priority in their life. It is not different today. God doesn’t just want our Sundays, he wants our lives! He wants nothing to be before Him. May our prayer be that we hunger so much and thirst so much to know God more that we can’t get enough of Him. That we understand the need for community and not only look forward to it, but feel like we can’t miss it. May our prayer be that the local church becomes the image of Christ on earth today. A community of believers doing life together, exhorting and rebuking in love, on mission together, and serving God above all else.
We have filled our lives with so many things. Sports, hobbies, and so on that do not glorify God because they take priority over God. They take priority over meeting as a local church. If we spend our Sundays at the ball field, watching the NFL, or any other hobby more often than we are meeting with a local believing covenant community we are in sin (Hebrews 10:25). Are we spending more time reading a recruiting website of our favorite college team, or in the Word of God? We have declared what is most important by what we spend our time doing and where we invest our money. People notice, our children notice, and most importantly God notices. Are we giving God our best, or are we giving him what is left?