Summary: A message about stewardship of time and service.
GIVING GOD YOUR BEST
INTRO: On a rainy Sunday afternoon, a little brother and sister were playing “Noah and the Ark.” An old shoe box was the ark; the bathtub was their flood. After the flood was over they decided to make an offering to God.
Noah (the boy) said to Mrs. Noah (the girl), “Here, take one of your toy animals as a sacrifice.” “No,” she replied, “Let’s use one of your animals instead!” When they could not agree, she ran to the attic.
In a moment she was back with a toy lamb. It was dirty, it’s head smashed, and it’s tail missing. “Here,” she cried, “let’s give this as a sacrifice. We will never want it again.”
Her brother agreed, and they made their sacrifice. The little broken lamb they did not want was given to God.
NOW THE SCENE SHIFTS. God was looking down at his earth. He saw the people in all of their wickedness and their weakness. They had no hope. All was dark. Something had to be sacrificed if they were to be saved from their sin. God had many angels he might have sent to help. He did not even consider them. Another was chosen instead: the best God had.
The Scriptures tell us why: “God so loved the world . . . .” (John 3:16).
Malachi, in his prophecy, set those two things — the love of God and the disgraceful worship of man — side by side.
His prophecy opens with the assertion, “I have loved you, says the Lord.” In the next section he accused the people of dishonoring him with shoddy, disgraceful worship (1:6-8).
The degenerate and cynical people argued saying, “In what way have we despised your name?”
Malachi’s charge was that they were giving God their leftovers. This is a clear view of the degenerate religious life of Israel. The priests were accepting molded bread and blind, crippled, diseased animals for sacrifice on the altar.
Instead of bringing their best, they were bringing their leftovers and offering
them to God.
The Lord evaluates such worship and sacrifices in this passage. What he said here to Israel becomes a challenge to us today to give our highest and best to him.
How does God evaluate our second best given to him?
I. OUR SECOND BEST DOES NOT HONOR GOD.
Some relationships demand honor and respect. No Jew would deny that a son was obligated to honor his father, a servant his master, and a citizen his king.
Having earlier identified himself as “Lord of hosts,” God now identified himself as “father”, “master” (v. 6), and “king” (v. 14). He then asks: “If then I am the Father, where is my honor? And if I am a Master, where is my reverence?”
Those who offer God their second best do not have an appropriate concept of God. If Jesus Christ be God and he died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him. Look at note on v. 7 (Believer’s Study Bible).
II. OUR SECOND BEST DOES NOT PLEASE GOD.
The Lord suggested that the people offer their second best to the governor. Would he be pleased? Would he accept such sacrifices? The obvious answer is no (v. 8) (See note on v. 9 in BSB).
The Lord then assured them that he had no pleasure in them and would not accept their sacrifices either. He recommended that they lock the doors of the sanctuary and let the fires of the altar go out rather than continue such unacceptable worship (v. 10).
He told them he was receiving more reverential worship from the heathen than from among his own people (v. 11-12).
Are you offering to God that which you would not dare offer a lesser person? Are you offering to God that which even a pagan would not offer to their gods? Do you honor God by the life you live? The offering you give? The service you render? Do we spend as much time studying God’s Word as the cults spend studying their “bible”?
III. OUR SECOND BEST DOES NOT SATISFY US.
Malachi quotes the people in worship saying, “Oh, what a weariness!” (v. 13). They were not willing to give their highest and best to God, but neither were they willing to abandon worship altogether. So, worship became a dull routine. Someone has said, “Religion is either an acute fever or a dull monotony.” Which is it to you? (vv. 11-13)
Many people sit in church on Sunday saying to themselves, “When will this end so we can get on with something meaningful?”
A religion that cost nothing, is worth nothing, for it brings no lasting satisfaction to us.
An epitaph found on the tombstone of a Cavalier solder, who, had sold all of his possessions for the royalist cause, met his death on the battlefield against the Roundheads reads, “He served King Charles with a constant, dangerous, and expensive loyalty.” Can we do less for our God? He is a great King and deserves our constant, dangerous, and expensive service.
CONC: The concluding statement of God on this whole matter was to pronounce a curse on the people for their hypocritical attempt to deceive him (v. 14).