Summary: Leaders have an obligation to instruct others and not cause people to stumble. This is only possible when we stand in awe of God’s name.
Leading Others Upward
There are some things that only a mom can teach…
My mother taught me about anticipation:
“Just wait until your father gets home!”
My mother taught me about medical science:
“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they’re going to stay that way.”
My mother taught me about genetics:
“You’re just like your father.”
My mother taught me about justice:
“One day you’ll have kids and I hope they turn out just like you.” (I heard that one a lot)
I want to mention at the beginning that this sermon will not be a “typical” Mother’s Day message. A couple months ago, after deciding to begin a book study for the spring, I asked my wife to survey the Women’s Ministry Leadership Team to see whether they thought I should devote this Sunday to a message for mothers like I’ve done in past years. I was surprised by their answer. They felt that it was not necessary to dedicate an entire sermon to mothers and preferred that the sermon series continue with an application to mothers. So that’s what I’m going to do. You can never go wrong listening to mothers about Mother’s Day!
Actually, I shouldn’t be surprised that people in a Bible church want these kinds of messages. After all, Bible is our middle name! As I mentioned last week, believers here want sermons that “bring it on” so that we can all step it up spiritually. Bless you for your bold beliefs and for your voracious appetite for the Word of God! Two weeks ago we were reminded that even though there are many ways in which we fall short, we can always count on God’s unconditional love. Last Sunday our focus was on giving God our best by embracing an authentic faith, giving God priority over our possessions and by grasping His greatness.
I want to share with you something that happened after the second service. As I made my way to my desk to pick up some things to take down to “Pizza With the Pastors,” a gentleman followed me into my office (By the way, he gave me permission to share this). He’s been attending here for a couple months and rededicated his life to Christ during an invitation about six weeks ago. He looked at me with a very serious look on his face and started taking off his watch. I’ll admit that I was distracted and in a bit of a hurry to make it down to the Family Life Center because my stomach was growling. When he got his watch off, he said, “Here, I want you to have this.” I told him thanks but I already had a watch and then invited him to come down and have pizza with us.
He stopped me, looked right into my eyes and said, “This watch is all I have. I’m giving it to God. Please take it. It’s my offering to the church.” I held out my hand and he gave it to me. His eyes were filled with tears at this point and so were mine. He then turned around and left. As I stood there with his offering in my hand, I realized that he had just given the best that he had at great cost to himself while I had been locked into lunch and fixated on food.
I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in each of our lives as a result of our text for today. Please turn in your Bibles to Malachi 2:1-9. As you’re turning there, let me say that I’m going pick up the pace because this passage contains a spiritual smorgasbord. I’ll need to talk fast to make sure we get to the dessert bar at the end. If you miss something I encourage you to pick up a tape or a manuscript in the hallway, or go to our website to listen to the audio file or download the text. Are you ready?
Let’s begin by looking at verse 1 together: “And now this admonition is for you, O priests.” Some of us might be tempted to check out at this point because this passage is obviously not for us, or is it? The connecting point is the term “priest” because it was not only used to identify a certain group of people in the Old Testament, but is also used to describe every believer in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, priests were descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron, who was from the tribe of Levi. They were called Levites and their job was to serve in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. They were set apart for two primary purposes: to sacrifice animals and to serve God.
Under the New Covenant, Jesus, the high priest, who offered Himself as the final sin sacrifice, fulfilled this office. We see this in Hebrews 4:14: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 7:23-25 makes clear that because Jesus has become a permanent priest, the Old Testament priesthood is now obsolete. Verse 27 states that sacrifices are no longer necessary because He has paid the price with His life: “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.”