Summary: If we want to kick-start our faith we must remain loyal (Part 2 in a series on "How to Kick-start Your faith").
How to kick-start your faith Part 2
Remain Loyal (2:10-17).
With good reason there was one particular woman who was always suspicious of her husband’s waywardness. Each night there would be a row when she would discover a blonde or a brunette hair on his lapel. One night she was really puzzled and she studied his coat for ten minutes without finding one hair. Finally she asked him, “Okay, so who’s this bald headed woman you’re seeing?”
Loyalty is essential if a marriage is going to last isn’t it? In fact it is essential in any lasting relationship. You may remember that we are looking at how we can kick-start our faith. Well in today’s passage Malachi makes the point that every person can experience a vital relationship with God if they remain loyal (OHP).
A relationship that is both pleasing to God and fulfilling for us must be characterised by loyalty. Not that being loyal to God is a new idea. It should be obvious that to experience a vital relationship with anyone, let alone God, we ought remain loyal to them.
The primary purpose of Malachi’s statement here, is to point out that every person can experience a vital relationship with God if they put that loyalty into practice not only in their relationship to him, but also in their relationships with God’s people and their own families.
I. REMAIN LOYAL TO EACH OTHER (2:10)
In fact loyalty to God is not even the first issue raised. In 2:10, Malachi’s first point is that of loyalty within the family of believers (OHP). I suppose that if we cannot be loyal to one another, how can we be loyal to God?
He reminds us that as members of one family, God’s people have only one Father. That God’s people are the children and creation of God alone. With this in mind he goes on to say that - If God’s people have only one Father, then they must be brothers and sisters - and his question is “why then, if they are family, do God’s people experience disloyalty among them?”
His concern is based upon the fact that when disloyalty arises, then that special relationship between God and his people is broken. And that’s what we’re on about today. What keeps our faith vital and alive is a heartfelt relationship with God. When we are disloyal to one another, this displeases God. So disloyalty among the family of believers breaks relationship to God.
The application doesn’t end their either. God is not only the Father of all believers, he is the creator and Father of all humankind. Therefore our loyalty clearly extends into the wider community also. As God’s created children we must be loyal to one another, but especially so if we are part of his new creation, part of his special family of believers. We must set the example.
Let me try and ground this concept in a real life. The church is as much a human organization as it is a divine one. It’s made up of fallible humans who get under one another’s skin from time to time. When we want to moan about someone else - just don’t. It’s so easy to whinge to anybody who will listen - apart from the person concerned. The hard task is to approach the other party concerned and deal with the situation at its source. There are clear biblical outlines as to how we are to deal with this kind of conflict.
A friend recently put me straight in a manner which was commendable. I had left a task undone just prior to going on holidays. So I asked my friend if she could see to it. Instead of carrying her gripe to someone else she came straight back at me there and then and said, “Well I did mention this to you a week ago.” It hurt but she was right. I had had plenty of time to see that this task was done. And I was glad that she was loyal enough to bring me to task over the issue and not belly-ache to someone else.
If we want to experience a vital relationship with our God then we need to be at peace with one another first. Nothing can distract us from our relationship with God quicker than bitterness and disloyalty, especially among the family of believers. We need to remain loyal to one another.
II. REMAIN LOYAL TO GOD (2:11-12)
You would think that it would go without saying that we should also remain loyal to God if we want to experience intimacy with him. Yet it would seem that this concept was not that obvious to Malachi’s audience. He describes the Israelite’s behaviour in v11 as “detestable” because “the sanctuary (or holiness), that the Lord loves has been desecrated by [their] marrying the daughter’s of foreign gods.” This was another way of saying that they were consistently giving God the short shift. Other issues took precedence. The situation was probably such that Jewish men were marrying non-Jewish women and so inviting their non-Jewish practices into their homes. Malachi points out that God wants his people to marry within the faith - and that to do otherwise often led to people deserting God.