Most of us would readily affirm that we value reverence for God. But how is this value expressed in our lives?
I’d like to draw our attention to Malachi chapter 1 and note the Lord’s stern word to Israel: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!” (Mal 1:6, NLT)
This was a serious indictment. The Lord was pointing out the sharp discrepancy between what they professed and how they related to Him. And, in foolish defiance, the people brusquely retorted: “How have we ever shown contempt for your name?” It was as though they were challenging the Lord to show proof!
The Lord gave this reply: “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.” v 7, NLT.
The discourse throughout the chapter is painful to read. Each time the Lord pointed out one aspect, there was an immediate rejoinder from Israel in a combative tone. They seemed to think that the Lord was mistaken in His observations! The Lord’s Word to Israel in Malachi convey to us that what and how we present our offerings will clearly reveal whether we reverence Him.
Our motives must be set right
The people in Malachi’s day were bringing in offerings. They came for worship. They brought sacrifices. And they thought that God should be pleased. But God wasn’t! They were performing rituals which looked good from the outside, at least to themselves. They were not seeking to glorify God, as He rightly deserves. We can be in danger of going through the motions of worship as well. Our regular coming together for corporate worship, if not accompanied by heart-felt motivation to exalt the glorious Lord, will be empty worship. In the same vein, worship leading, preaching or teaching a class with our hearts far removed from the Lord will not be pleasing to Him. We will be dishonoring Him with misplaced motives.
The worth of our gifts will reveal our regard of Him
In our worship, we offer to the Lord our time, talent and treasures, acknowledging that all that we have and all that we are truly comes from Him. The quality and the cost of our gifts will reveal our regard of Him. We read in Malachi that the people were bringing unworthy animals – those that were blind, crippled, stolen or sick (vv 8 and 13) and placing them on the altar for sacrifice. In short, they were offering leftovers and rejects, which they would not have presented to a human dignitary. G. Campbell Morgan noted: “Sacrilege is centered in offering God something which costs nothing, because you think God is worth nothing”. No, we are not referring to absolute quantum. The Lord Jesus commended the poor widow who gave two coins out of her poverty (Luke 21:1-4). We reverence God when we give Him our best, not the leftovers. And this refers not only to our treasures, but also our time and talents.
Our priorities will reflect what we truly seek
Our Lord’s command to seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matt 6:33) applies to all disciples. It is good for us to take stock, to ask ourselves these hard questions:
- Do my priorities – the way I spend my time, money and efforts – reflect the things that matter most to God?
- Am I seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness in my personal life, family, work, and my spare time activities?
- Am I seeking to honor God above all else that crowds in for attention?
Answering these questions honestly will enable us to check whether our priorities are in line with our profession and consistent with God’s revealed word. It will confront wrong attitudes and values, and help us get back on course.
The Lord expects us to conduct our lives with integrity in our offerings
The account of Ananias and Sapphira’s giving of money from the proceeds of their land sale is instructional (see Acts chapter 5). Wanting to look good before men, they lied that the amount was the full proceeds, when they actually kept a portion for themselves. Peter reprimanded them for lying to God. Their lives reflected no integrity.
What we offer and how we offer will reveal our heart condition – whether we truly reverence God. If we love Him with all our heart, mind and soul, and acknowledge that He is holy, we will want to give of our best to the Master, our Lord. We will not dare to give Him leftovers of our time, our energy, and the resources that He graciously places in our hands. Our offerings will indeed tell the story.
By David L.T. Yap, Advisory Pastor/Elder (YCKC Bulletin 18&19 January 2014)