Living Like Treasure
INTRODUCTION… Trophy Husband Shirt Conversation (p)
This past week I was going through some of my clothes and I found this t-shirt that I am wearing. It is a t-shirt that Kelly bought me some time ago. It says “Trophy Husband.” I have never worn it. I don’t like the t-shirt. As I was going through them, I put this shirt in the “discard pile.” The next day I was fumbling around looking for a t-shirt to wear and Kelly remembered seeing it the day before as I went through my clothes and suggested I wear it.
I told her that shirt went in the discard pile as soon as I came upon it. I told her I didn’t wear it because it is weird and I don’t think it’s true and I don’t want to wear it.
Then Kelly said something which immediately brought the passage to mind that we will be focusing on this morning. Kelly said, “You don't get to decide if you are my trophy husband or not. It's true because I decided you are my trophy.” It was hard to disagree with that. You see chosen-ness depends on the opinion of the chooser not the chosen. Kelly was saying that ‘You have value because you are valuable to me.’ It is the same with treasure. The value of the treasure depends on the one who considers it treasure. Today we will be talking about treasure and value and chosen-ness.
The 3:16 that we will read from this morning comes from the last book of the Old Testament. It is from the book of Malachi (Mal-ah-kai… not Mah-lah-chee). Malachi (Mal-ah-kai) is a book of the Bible. Malachi (Mah-lah-chee) is an Italian prophet or Italian designer or something. Anyway, as the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi has much to say in 4 chapters.
Malachi 3:16-17 are our target verses for us this morning and where we want our eyes of faith to focus. To be honest, Malachi 3:16-17 has one single solitary message for us this morning and we don’t want to miss it. In order not to miss it, let’s start our vision large and work our way smaller and smaller as we go along. In order not to miss it, let’s start looking at the whole forest and then focus down on one particular tree and then onto one specific branch. Let’s first briefly look at the whole context of the Book of Malachi, then look at chapter 3, then look more specifically at 3:13-18 and then we will settle on Malachi 3:16-17 and its important encouraging and challenging message for us.
MALACHI CHAPTERS 1-4
The last book of the Old Testament has four chapters addressed to all of the covenant people of God. God’s very first words in Malachi to His people are “I have loved you” (Malachi 1:2). God is expressing to the people here that His love was expressed in fact long ago, but the effects remain strong even in the present. God expresses His unchanging love for His people.
Chapter 1: Malachi talks about the love God has for Israel and how the priests of Israel are corrupt.
Chapter 2: Malachi continues his admonition to the priests in their corruption and speaks about divorce.
Chapter 3: Malachi talks about stealing and giving and about the divine love God has for Israel.
Chapter 4: Malachi predicts a day when judgment will come, but will also be a day of hope for many.
ILLUSTRATION… 2 Jackets and a Shirt (p)
I have with me today three things that I consider to be treasures. They are treasures to me because I consider them to be valuable. The first item here is a black leather jacket. I bought this leather jacket for $99.99 in 1994. What is the big deal with this jacket? It is a normal run of the mill leather jacket. It is a size “medium” and I have not been a size “medium” since 1996. I can never wear this jacket again. So why keep it? I keep it for one reason. I got my first job in 1994 and worked in a movie theater. With my first paycheck, I purchased this leather jacket. Why? I don’t know. But I bought it with the first money I ever earned myself. So it is valuable to me.
The second item I have here is a jacket that I earned in 1994. This is my letterman jacket from Baumholder American High School where I finished High School. When my family moved to Baumholder, I decided I wanted to play a sport, get a girlfriend, and be popular. I think I did all of those. Kelly tells me I wasn’t as popular as I think. I got this jacket because I was on the Varsity Football team for 2 years. I got this Academic Letter because 1994 was the beginning of the “We don’t want anyone to feel left out culture” and you could also get a jacket for grades. I had good grades. I wore this jacket often. It is still in great shape and I hope to keep it in great shape for many years.
This third item is a gift I received from Josh and Michelle Bower who some of you might remember. Josh was our first ministry intern here at NBCC many years ago. They knew my favorite saying and found a t-shirt at a conference they were at and bought it for me. This was a gift. The saying is “Live your life so the preacher doesn’t have to lie at your funeral.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. That is my all time favorite saying and I love that those two thought of me and bought it for me out of love and respect.
I want you to know that these three items have no value to anyone else but me. I give these three items value and I take care of them. The leather jacket hangs in the closet where Kelly has all her clothes. I don’t have a closet, but this jacket hangs in there anyway. This letterman jacket is folded nicely and stored above the clothes in the closet where nothing can get to it. This t-shirt hangs on the wall in my office. All of these things are treasures for me because I say they are and I take care of them. They have value to me.
MALACHI CHAPTER 3
Malachi chapter 3 is a chapter with three small sections. First, Malachi talks about the Messiah. Then, he relays a message of God about stealing and giving. Then finally Malachi talks about the divine love God has for Israel.
Malachi 3:1-5 describes that one day a messenger from God would come and he would help direct the people before the Messiah comes. When the Messiah arrives on the scene, He will refine the people with fire and burn away all the corrupt ingredients of their faith and leave them with a pure faith. He will also cleanse them as soap and leave them forgiven and purge sin from their lives.
If you did not know it, that is who Jesus Christ is… that is what Jesus Christ does for me and for you. As a way of explaining who He is and what He does, Jesus Christ is a refiner’s fire and a harsh cleansing soap. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, comes into our lives and He burns away the things in our lives that make us impure. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, comes into our lives and He washes the dirt and soil of sin from our hearts and minds and leaves us clean and forgiven. Jesus does this for us once and for all by His death on the cross for us, but also on a continual basis through our daily personal relationship with Him. Malachi 3 describes that.
Malachi 3:6-12 describes that the people of God are under a curse because they choose to rob God and not give their tithes to Him. Not tithing is a sin. Not tithing money and not giving to God means stealing. When you and I do not give to God from our money, we rob Him. There is no way to spin or study away the meaning of God’s Word in Malachi… you don’t give then you rob God. Malachi 3 describes that.
Malachi 3:13-18 also describes God’s love for His people in the midst of all of their problems. Malachi 3:13-18 is the passage that we are most concerned with today, so let’s dig in a read that portion of Scripture. As we read, notice the whole passage, but in the end we are going to focus specifically on verses 16 and 17.
READ MALACHI 3:13-18
"You have said harsh things against me," says the LORD. "Yet you ask, 'What have we said against you?' 14 "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'" 16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 17 "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
In Malachi 3:13-18 we find that the people of God are having an attitude problem. To be honest, the other chapters of Malachi also talk about attitude problems… just one attitude problem after another. This particular attitude problem focuses on quitting on God. The covenant people of God, who have been the recipients of His unchanging love, are basically whining that they don’t want to follow God because they don’t see the benefit.
Why should we follow God, we aren’t any richer!
Why should we follow God, we never got anything out of it for ourselves!
Why should we follow God, He just restricts our lives and other people get to have more fun!
Why should we follow God, other people sin and God doesn’t punish them!
Why should we follow God, other people push God to the limit and get away with it!
These are the attitudes that God describes in Malachi 3:13-18. If we look at the whole context of these verses, God has a name for people who have attitudes like that… God has an opinion about people who think about Him in those ways… God calls them wicked and says they do not follow Him.
In the midst of this attitude problem, Malachi describes something for us that is extremely important and very encouraging. We find the important encouraging message in verses 16-17.
RE-READ MALACHI 3:16-17
Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 17 "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.
Among those that were wicked and had an attitude problem were some faithful people. Verse 16 shares with us that in the midst of this attitude problem, the faithful encouraged each other with words. We don’t know what they said to each other, but the words certainly seemed to honor God. God kept His watchful eye on them and their names were even written down so nothing they said or did would be forgotten.
Verse 17 shares with us something supremely important and deals with treasure and value and chosen-ness. You see, God called those faithful people gathered before Him “cegullah” (seg-oo-lah). That is a unique Hebrew word which means “special possession” or “treasured possession” which means a “possession exclusively belonging to YHWH.”
This is not the first time God has called the People of God His “treasured possession.” Hundreds and hundreds of years before God said to a wayward people coming out of slavery in Egypt, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation'” (Exodus 19:5-6). Moses told them again in Deuteronomy 7:6, “The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” (repeated in Deuteronomy 14:2 and 26:18). David in Psalm 135:3-4 reflects, “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. 4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.”
You might say to yourself, that’s all well and good preacher, but those words of “treasured possession” were aimed at the people of Israel in the Old Testament who were His chosen people full of His priests and they were in fact a holy nation. That doesn’t apply to us. You might say that to yourself.
You would be correct except for 1 Peter 2:9-10 declares to us so very plainly, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Hear this! If you are in Christ, if you have in faith and repentance accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and you have been baptized with Him and received the gift of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), then you are God’s “treasured possession.” Period. If you have accepted Christ and He has washed you clean and is refining your faith and your life, then you are God’s “treasured possession.” Period.
What does it practically mean from God that we are His “treasured possession?”
Verse 16 tells us that because we are God’s treasured possession that He spares us and has compassion on us. God cares for us as we would a treasured possession. He guards our hearts and mends back the broken pieces when life shatters us. He disciplines us when needed and sets us back on the paths of righteousness. God cares for us and keeps our souls intact and trims away the sins that darken our hearts. God provides for us. God cares for us as we would a treasured possession. Preservation. Care. Protection. Personal Interest. Joy. Compassion. Love.
We must not forget that God is the one who has done the choosing. Chosen-ness depends on the opinion of the chooser not the chosen. God says to us, ‘You have value because you are valuable to Me.’ The value of the treasure depends on the One who considers it treasure. God considers you and I treasure.
What does it practically mean from us that we are His “treasured possession?”
Since we are God’s “treasured possession” we need to act like it!
We need to act like a chosen people.
We need to live in our homes and work at our jobs like a royal priesthood.
We need to vote like a holy nation.
We need to watch TV and movies as though we are people who belong to God.
We need to tithe and give to the church like a chosen people.
We need to share our faith with others like a royal priesthood.
We need to dress like a holy nation.
We need to study our Bibles and pray and serve God as though we are people who belong to God.
CONCLUSION… INVITATION TO ACCEPT CHRIST
1 Peter 2:9-10,“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Do you want to be part of God’s people?
Do you want to receive mercy from God?
Both of these come through Jesus Christ the Son of God.