Sermon Illustrations

Notice what Malachi says;

“…A child HONORS his father, and a servant HONORS his master. I am a father, so why don’t you respect me? I am a master, so why don’t you respect me? You priests do not respect me?

But you ask, ‘How have we shown you disrespect?’ You have shown it by bringing unclean food to my altar.

But you ask, ‘What makes it unclean?’ It is unclean because you don’t respect the altar of the Lord. When you bring blind animals as sacrifices, that is wrong. When you bring crippled and sick animals, that is wrong. Try giving them to your governor. Would he be pleased with you? He wouldn’t accept you,” says the Lord ALL Powerful…”

Malachi 1:6-8 (NCV)

Pretty powerful words, Listen to how Max Lucado describes this attitude towards giving in the introduction to the book of Malachi in the Inspirational Bible.

The image is vivid. A family on their way to the temple realizes they have forgotten the sheep. He turns to her and says, “Did you bring a sacrifice?” “No, I thought you did,” she replies. He stops the wagon sans says, “You go ahead and take the kids, I’ll go back.”

He goes back to the pen and begins to sort through the sheep looking for the one to be sacrificed. He picks up a big fat one with thick wool. “Too valuable,” he decides and puts it down. He picks up another fat one, “No, I want to enter this one in a contest.” He finds another healthy one, “No, I need to save this one for breeding…”

Finally he comes upon a frail lamb with a broken leg and spotted wool. “Ahh,” he says, “This will be a good one to get rid of…”

What the fellow doesn’t know is that God has been watching the process. God has been observing the choosing. What God has heard the man say is, I will give a token, but I want give my heart…”

Such an attitude angers God. And such anger is found in this last book of the Old Testament.

Now, we don’t offer sheep, but every Sunday we have an opportunity to give. Some people arrive at the altar with no thought given at all to their financial responsibility before God. As the plate comes, she elbows him and says; “What do you want to give?”

He says, “Let’s see what I got.”

Wallets come out and the process of proclamation begins. We begin to sort through the sheep pen. We consider the big sheep with the picture of Ben Franklin, no, that’s too much. We think about writing a check with a couple of zeros. ‘Better not,” we decide.

We forget the process itself is a statement…

We forget that God is watching…

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