Summary: A textual sermon on Malachi 3:16. It was adapted from several Sermon Central sources.
Sermon for 1/20/2002
Does it Pay to Serve God?
A. Have you ever come in contact with someone who says that they went to church for a long time, got involved in the programs of the church, made a decision for Jesus Christ, but through a period of years they have come to believe that it didn’t do much for them, so they no longer attend church or any spiritual activities.
B. Probably will not say that out loud but this is a prevailing attitude among some people. God helps those who help themselves, and God didn’t do much for me. As a matter of fact my life was more difficult when I was serving God, so who needs God, the church, Christianity? It is a burden.
C. What is the use? I have been guilty in my heart of saying at times, "What good does it do to preach the Word? I mean look at the lives of the people! No change, no difference.
D. The very reasons I gave myself for not preaching the Word are the same reasons that I need to preach the Word of God!
E. Skeptics argue, "What are we getting out of it?" The skeptics are serving God as a mere duty and when it becomes too troublesome they abandon God.
F. These people argue that God was obligated to pay them something in return for them showing up and going through the motions. Their expectations were not met so they questioned God’s pay off. Their conclusion was "We’re no better off!"
G. Are we serving out of duty or out of love? If out of duty, if no tangible results, then we abandon God.
H. H.B. London- "Lord, I need You to help me to see satisfactions in service, to enjoy partnership with You, to delight in studying, seeking, and speaking for You; and rescue me from the prison of merely doing my duty. Amen."
I. This shows great insight. This is not just a problem with them; it can also be a problem with us. Our attitude can be this way sometimes. Look at my neighbors, look at my co-workers, look at the people on TV, they don’t go to church nor have any faith, they are godless and look they are better off. They are happy go lucky and they make more money and are rewarded for their immorality. WE probably have not said this but we have thought it from time to time.
J. Really this stems from the problem of self-righteousness. We are better than others are. We are blessed of God. Nobody is as good and as blessed as we are.
K. We don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew and we don’t date girls who do. If we do these things we are better than other people. We look down our noses at the ungodly person who is laying the gutter and we say that person is suffering for his sins. I am so much better than that. However, when we do all that we believe that a Christian should and it is clear that we are not better off in this world than others, we have less money, less prestige, less power, low social standing, this is the point where many lose their motivation and maybe even lose their faith.
L. Some people are serving God not to glorify Him, but for their own selfish interests and personal advantage. When their selfish interest and personal advantage are not met to their satisfaction, then they no longer serve God.
A. This brings us to the book of Malachi. If you want to read something sarcastic, read the book of Malachi. It is so sarcastic that it is quite humorous in places.
B. The preaching prophet Malachi ministered not long after the time of Nehemiah. About 400 years before the birth of Christ. Last book of the Old Testament. The temple and the city of Jerusalem had been rebuilt. Nehemiah is no longer there and the people become disappointed with God because He is not making them more prosperous and more powerful than their neighbors. When they compare themselves to their neighbors, they realize that they are poor in many ways. However, they are serving God and doing their duty so why are they poor while the ungodly are rich.
C. People who are just fulfilling an obligation do not bring their best. Israel’s attitude was to do just enough to get by because their hearts were far from God.
D. Israel’s attitude lead to much of this decline.
1. First, they doubt God’s love because they have not been very prosperous.
2. The priests and people do not appreciate proper worship.
a. They bring crippled, worthless animals sacrifices to the temple and expect God to be pleased.