Summary: An Exposition of Malachi 1
How Do I Love You?
How do you know somebody loves you? How do you show somebody you love them?
Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a bestselling book several years ago entitled The Five Love Languages in which he suggests people give and receive love in one of 5 different ways:
1. Words of Affirmation 2. Quality Time 3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service 5. Physical Touch
Dr. Chapman goes on to say that because we don’t speak the same language of love, it is possible to love somebody in a way that doesn’t communicate our love to them.
Ma and Pa had been married for 30 years when Pa came home one night to find Ma in the kitchen crying. “What in tarnation is wrong with you, Ma?” Through her tears Ma blurted out, “Pa, why don’t you ever tell me you love me?” Pa replied, “Ma when we were married I told you that I loved you, and if I ever change my mind, I’ll let you know."
Sounds like Ma and Pa speak different love languages.
How do you know somebody loves you? How do you show somebody you love them? Those are some very important questions in our relationship with our spouse, with our children, with our family, and even with God. It is important for you and I to be on the right track about how we know God loves us, and how we show our love for Him.
This is the theme of Malachi 1: God’s love for His people, and their love (or lack of love) for Him. The words of the prophet challenge us to ask: how does God love me, and how do I show my love for Him? For answers, let’s begin with Mal. 1:1-2.
How do I love you? Malachi says
I. I LOVE YOU IN SPITE OF DOUBTS. (v. 1-2a)
Letter from a young man to his girlfriend who lived across town before the age of the automobile: Honey, I would climb the highest mountain for you. I would swim the deepest river just to be where you are. I would fight alligators, lions, and tigers to be by your side. I would walk through fire for the privilege of gazing into your eyes. And I’ll surely come see your Saturday night---if it doesn’t rain!”
This young man’s words don’t quite match his actions. His girlfriend might doubt the sincerity of his words, and maybe even the sincerity of his love.
Have you ever had your doubts when somebody says I love you? People can say those words without really meaning them, can’t they? Have you had doubts about God’s love for you? Malachi tells us the people of Israel have some doubts about God’s love, which is OK, because God has some doubts about their love, too. These doubts surface in a Q & A session in the first part of vs. 2.
“I have loved you”, says the Lord. The emphasis is on God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people. Many times throughout the OT prophets, God proclaims His love for His people.
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Malachi and Jeremiah are trying to impress an important truth to us: God’s love for you never changes. His love is faithful, constant, never-ending. It is not based on your performance, but on His perfection. God cannot love you more; He will not love you less.
But there is another subtle implication in this verse: “I have loved you”, says the Lord. But you have not loved Me. This lack of love shows up in Israel’s response: in what way have You loved us? Do you hear the hint of accusation in these words? Why would they question God’s love for them?
One reason could be what they’ve been through, as a nation and as individuals. Yes, they had heard and read of all God had done in the past---how He chose Abraham, rescued Israeli slaves from Egypt through Moses, built a magnificent kingdom through David. But recent history has not been so glorious. The merciless Assyrians slaughtered the people in the northern kingdom of Israel, leaving nothing but heaps of dead bodies and mounds of burning rubble. The powerful Babylonians invaded the southern kingdom of Judah and what they didn’t destroy or kill they took with them into exile. The Israelites were a people without a homeland for 70 years, with no Temple in which to worship, no cities or towns to call their own. Even now rebuilding seemed like an almost impossible dream. Lord, we’re tired and we’re hungry and life is very hard right now. Our enemies enjoy prosperity and victory, while we wait so very long for You to fulfill Your promises. Do You still care about us? Do you really love us?”