“When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty. Malachi 1:7-8
The people of Israel had gotten careless and began to deal recklessly with God. When a prized animal became sick, they rushed him to the temple to use him for sacrifice. He might have looked like a perfect specimen to everyone else, even earning the owner praise by the priests for making such a generous offering. Oh, but God knew. When He had been seemingly quiet and inactive, His people took Him less and less seriously. They got sloppy, then irreverent, which lead to traitorous.
People pleasing is a dangerous bedfellow. I will be calculated when I know someone important is watching me be religious. Malachi, with biting sarcasm, asked the people, “Would you give such a gift to the governor?” He reminded them that when their reputation mattered publicly, they performed better. When all eyes had the chance to see their piety, they put their best foot forward. Speaking on behalf of God, Malachi’s words were clear that their actions were anything but worshipful. They played church for self-promotion.
What about integrity? Let me imagine for a moment that I volunteer to bring dinner to two different families who who need help with meals. One dinner is for the family of one of our pastors. The other meal is going to a widow in the church no one knows well. Will I put the same effort into both meals? If not, today’s message is for me. The gifts are tainted and God knows the difference. Have I really given them in His name or my own?
The stark realization from today’s scripture is this; whatever I offer to God as a sacrifice is supposed to be reminiscent of the kind of Sacrifice God gave, His own Lamb. How does that square with the amount of tithe I habitually give to the church, or the music I throw together without prayer or effort? God offered me His sacrifice; it was His perfect Son. When I consider making my next gift to the Kingdom of God, what will I be willing to pay?
Forgive me for thinking more about pleasing the pastor than pleasing You. Jesus, You offered Yourself and laid aside Your reputation. I want to hear You comment on the value of my gifts. Amen