The Lord asks, “If I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?” This question booms down the centuries and across the continents, and we must ask ourselves, “Do I treat God with the honor a father biblically deserves? Do I treat God with the respect of a servant to a loving, good, and powerful master?” In reality, this is only a tiny fraction of the honor and respect He deserves. Yet, I think today every honest soul would have to answer, “No, I have fallen short.” We have room to grow in how we reverence the Lord and respect His authority in our lives, as well as in general. After all, He is not just “our King,” but He is “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords.” The frequent way in which He patiently persists in love and faithfulness while we overstep our bounds, saying unfair things to Him and treating Him like our peer, is nothing short of a shocking display of the unthinkable mercy of God, which I am sure astounds the angels on a regular basis. If only we could see it the way they do!
Be careful of clever deflections from the piercing extent of this word. God calls them out as “priests who despise My name,” and I know that may bring relief to some. A pastor might say, “Good thing we are not part of that priest system anymore.” Other Christians may say, “God said ‘priests,’ so this is a Pharisee issue; it was the religious leaders!” But have we forgotten that every single believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has become a priest? Peter tells the whole church, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). Suddenly, every born-again Christian from the pastor to the pew-warmer has to say, “This same rebuke could come my way.” So, could we be despising His Name?
How were they despising the Name in Malachi’s day? Although they knew God had called for an unblemished male animal, they began to reason with themselves, “What does God care if it’s sick or blemished or not? After all, He sees my heart, and all this outward stuff is of no importance.” The problem was they didn’t see their own hearts; deep down, they knew they could make more money off the healthy animal. They knew the blind, lame, or sick animals were much less useful to them. Greed and self-interest were at the root, and they were robbing God (Malachi 1:14).
God deserves that we give Him our best. It never was about the physical quality of the animal; it was about the personal sacrifice that occurred when giving the healthy, useful male animal. Christ is worthy of that sacrifice; He is worthy that we offer Him the best we have, that we go out of our way for Him. Are we more eager to meet the desires of our earthly bosses than those of our Father in heaven? Do we continue putting off the call to pray and seek God, while rushing to pick up the phone call from our employer?
The LORD says, “You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,’” (Malachi 1:13). Our Lord wants so much more than a change from bad action to good action; He longs for a right spirit. As soon as we consider putting God first as a chore we dread doing, and we go about whining, even inwardly, about it, I believe He is once again crying out that we would just “shut the gates” (1:10). God would rather we not bother doing the thing than do it with the attitude that it is a burden to give up our time, desires, plans, and interests for Him. If we know more deeply the greatness and precious value of the Name we serve, we will joyfully give up all to honor it.
The Rock Church