Take a moment to remind yourself of Sunday’s sobering word. In Malachi 1:6-14, God had major concerns about the state of the priests’ hearts and the worship they were “offering.” He was calling them to repent in their hearts in order that they might return to honoring the Lord with their worship and service.
Here is the truth: When it doesn’t matter if God gets the first or the best, we have ceased to be living in a state of honoring the Lord.
God was asking His people to return to honoring Him above all else. What is He saying to each of us? Our love for God isn’t pure if we love other people or things more than we love Him. Isn’t a pure and devoted love the only appropriate response to the extravagant love God has for us? God isn’t interested in sacrifices. He is interested in our hearts, and our lives reveal where our hearts are.
Romans 12:1 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
The question I think God wants us to each answer this morning is this: Are we living sacrifices or are we offering leftovers to the Lord?
In order to be living sacrifices, I think we may need to consider this idea of returning to the Lord in a few ways:
We need to return our time, our talent, our treasure, to Him.
Give God the first part of your day. It’s a heart-aligning thing.
From the “get-go” find a few minutes in the morning to acknowledge your love for God. Read some Scripture or talk to Him as you are getting ready in the morning. Allow Him to be the first Person you speak with each day, so that you remind yourself of the relationship in your life which is the most important. It will sort of align your heart and orient your heart to the fact that you are a citizen of heaven and not of this world, that you are living to please God and not to please yourself or anyone around you.
Give God the first day of your week. It’s a heart-refining thing.
Think of Sunday and not Monday as the first day of your week, and make it a priority to be in church. Our hearts need refined and that comes as we intentionally put ourselves in a place where we are challenged and are being held accountable to do things God’s way.
How can we honor God with our treasure?
Give God the first from your income. It’s a heart-defining thing.
Nothing works on our hearts more than trusting God with our finances because it is perhaps only one of two or three areas of our lives where we actually have to “do” something in order to prove or testify to our trust and devotion to God. We actually have to release that money in order to demonstrate that we trust God to provide us with more.
II Corinthians 9:7 tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. The people of Malachi’s day weren’t giving cheerfully. It was a burden to them. They were just doing what they thought they had to in order to get by. There was no joy. There was no love. There was no honor.
Matthew 6:21 tells us how we use our treasure reflects what is in our hearts. Scripture teaches that the first 10% of our money goes to God which I actually think is another reflection of the generous love of God. He says, “Keep 90% to live on and enjoy life with, and just give me the first 10%.” More than half of Jesus’ parables talk about money. Why? Because every time Jesus taught, He was teaching about the alignment of our hearts. God is well-aware that when our hearts are right on the inside, outside behaviors reflect that we have been changed by the generous love and grace of God.
When you look at it, tithing is really a test for us. If I’m willing to do it, what could that indicate about my heart? If I’m not willing to do it, what could that indicate about my heart?
If you do a Bible study on the number 10, you will see a pattern with it: it often represents a form of testing. Robert Morris says it like this:
“How many times did God test Pharaoh’s heart? The answer is 10. How many commandments are there? How many times did God test Israel while they were wandering in the wilderness? And how many times did God test Jacob’s heart (by allowing his wages to be changed) when he was working for Laban? Or how many days was Daniel tested in (Daniel 1)? In each case, the answer is, of course, 10. In Matthew 25, 10 virgins had their preparedness tested. Ten days of testing are mentioned in Rev 2:10. The number 10 is associated with testing throughout the Bible. And the tithe represents the ultimate ‘heart test’ for the believer.”(https://christianpf.com/tithing-in-the-new-testament/)
2. We need to return to a respect and honor for His name.
God alleged in verse 6 that the priests were showing contempt for God’s name. He said in verse 12 that they profaned His name. In verse 11 and in verse 14, God reminded them that His name was to be feared, revered, and honored in all the earth. How they were going about their priestly duties was a mockery to God’s name.
God began by reminding them in verse 6 that He was their Father. He wasn’t and isn’t just any father. He is a Perfect Father. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He is worthy of all honor and respect.
What about another name used here in chapter one? The phrase, “The Lord Almighty” is used all through this passage. Other translations use the phrase, “The Lord of Hosts.” We aren’t talking about “Joe Shmoe” here, are we? We are talking about the God of the Universe, the God who has infinite authority. We are talking about the God who commands angel armies, the God who works out His Sovereign purpose in the world whether people cooperate or not. We are talking about the God who is above satan and the demons of Hell. We are talking about the God who commands the sun and moon to take their positions. We are talking about the God who fuels the stars and gives human beings breath. And the priests were worshipping Him with leftover sacrifices as if they were tossing a dog a bone. It was a disgrace to His name. May God’s name never roll carelessly off of our lips. May our worship of His name always be given from a pure, passionate heart of honor and respect.
3. We need to return to service with joy.
This is where our talents come in. We have been gifted by God to serve Him. If we aren’t serving Him with our gifts, we are choosing a purpose for our lives other than the purpose for which we were created. Serving God whether inside the walls or outside of the walls of our church gathering is supposed to bring Him honor. It should be a joy to serve the Lord, and not a burden. In verse 13 of our text we read that the priests in the service of the Lord found it to be a burden to carry out their acts of service. A burden. They acted bored and burdened that they should have to be bothered with serving the Lord. Isn’t that sad? When God told them to close the Temple doors, He was basically saying, “Forget it. If you can’t serve me with joy, if serving me is a burden, I no longer have your heart anyway. Just forget it.”
We aren’t only in a salvation relationship with God, but we are in a service relationship with Him. He is our Master. We are His servants, and we learn so much and grow so much in His service, that to fail to serve God, for me, would be like a person who wears oxygen, who turns their oxygen down by 33 percent. I gain so much life and breath from the Word, and I gain so much life and breath from worship, but I gain just as much life and breath from serving Him.
As I’ve gone over these areas that needed attention in Malachi’s day, were there any that resonated with you? Do you need to return to God in some way? If so, do it now.