READ: Psalm 136, Malachi 1, Matthew 18, Philemon
The God whose mercy endures forever (Psalm 136), the God whose faithfulness endures to all generations (119:90), is the same God who gets very annoyed with the ministers and missionaries who despise His name. God absorbs all kinds of blasphemies from the unconverted, but when those who bear His name insult Him, God bluntly tells them: “I have no pleasure in you” (Mal. 1:10). We who claim Jesus as Lord and Master tend to insult and offend Him in two primary ways: sneering at the sacraments and submitting our second best worship.
Sneering at the Sacraments. Malachi points out that priests (those appointed to represent the Lord) tend to say by word and deed that “the table of the Lord is contemptible” (v. 7). When we do not sanctify God’s means of communication to us, we insult Him. God has set apart the Scripture to reveal Himself; God has set apart His table that we might reverence what He has done on the cross; God has reserved marriage for a platform which glorifies Him; and God has ordained baptism to be a holy and joyous celebration. When we cavalierly approach and abuse the sacraments of the Church, we despise the Lord and we offend Him. The modern Christian takes pride in an irreverent spirituality and in doing so loses a sense of the majesty of God. We have reduced God from sovereign to empathetic and tolerant friend, and He will have none of it. God will not be reduced, even by His servants–especially by His servants. A reduction of respect for God’s means of revealing Himself is the first step towards rebellion.
Submitting Our Second Best. Malachi points out when we give lame, blind, sick, blemished sacrifices (vv. 8, 14), we are despising Him in what is a blatant evil act. When we give God less than our best, we are kindling a fire on His altar in vain (v. 10). Christian worship can be irritating to Jesus. When worship is half hearted, when worship is performance oriented, when it is more about the show than the Savior, Jesus looks down on all the noise (even when it happens in churches) as evil. We no longer bring animals to the House of the Lord for sacrifice; today we bring our energy, time, passion, zeal, intensity, enthusiasm, and devotion. When we are more exuberant about sports than praise, then our praise is offensive to God and evil in His ears. When we are more devoted to our children than our heavenly Father, then our devotion is diminished in His sight. When we lavish our resources on retirement, comfort, clothes, or restaurants, and not on God’s great passion to be known in all the earth, then our token missions giving is offensive and even repugnant to Him. We are so proud of half-hearted efforts (i.e. blemished sacrifices); God is disgusted and offended with them. If God’s name is to be great among the nations (v. 11), our offerings must be pure.