Doesn’t God deserve our Best?

After listening restlessly to a long and tedious sermon, a 6-year-old boy asked his father what the preacher did the rest of the week. “Oh, he’s a very busy man,” the father replied. “He takes care of church business, visits the sick, works on his sermon, counsels people…and then he has to have time to rest up because speaking in public isn’t an easy job.” The boy thought for a moment and then said, “Well, listening ain’t easy, either!”

It ain’t easy to listen, is it? That’s probably how Malachi’s listeners felt.

Let me remind you of the situation that Malachi is addressing. The Jews had returned to their land after living in modern-day Iraq for 70 years. The Temple had been rebuilt and the worship of God had been reestablished. While outwardly everything seemed OK, on the inside a cancer of complacency had been eating away at their commitment. Their worship had become wimpy, their leaders had morphed into lightweights, their relationships had ruptured, their offerings were anemic and they had stopped serving. As God’s final spokesman at the end of the Old Testament, Malachi comes on the scene to challenge them, and us, to give God our best.

1. Embrace an authentic faith (1:6-7). There are two sides to the Father’s love. One side is tender and the other a bit tougher. He is relational in His giving, and He is resplendent in His glory, and as such, we must honor Him, which means to consider Him weighty.

2. Give God priority over possessions (1:8-9). The priests were accepting not just the second best from the people; but worse than that, they were bringing God sick sheep and gross goats. They were offering the ones that weren’t worth anything. God is not interested in substandard sacrifices (Lev. 22:2, 19-20).

There are three standards for sacrifices in Scripture.

• Give the best (John 12:3-5)

• Give to God first (2 Chron. 31:5)

• Giving should cost us something (2 Sam. 24:24)

3. Grasp the greatness of God (1:10-14). God would much rather have us shut down the church than to come to Him with pathetic leftovers. Every time God mentions sacrifice, He follows it with the phrase, “I will be great” or “I will be feared.” Sacrifice is directly linked to the greatness of God. When we offer Him little or nothing, we are really saying that God doesn’t matter much to us.

Instead of counting it a privilege to minister on God’s behalf, they exclaimed, “What a burden!” They even “sniffed at it contemptuously,” which means that they “puffed” or “blew” in exaggerated exasperation. I imagine God looking at us and wondering why we get so bored with Him (see Mic. 6:3; Isa. 1:12-13).

If you ever get a glimpse of the greatness of God, and what Jesus has done for you, you’ll never play church again and you’ll give God your best for the rest of your life.