Summary: Malachi - The Final Prophet (part 8) Godly Insight for Today & Malachi 3:13-18
✎ Like many adult children, I have some things left over from my growing up days still tucked away somewhere at my mom and dad’s house. One is a wall plaque I was given the summer of my high school graduation. My name is engraved below the words "Evangel Temple Worker of the Year." This plaque like other ribbons and trophies collected over the years were the rewards I received for my childhood accomplishments.
All of us like to be rewarded for our efforts; it feels good to be recognized for our achievement. Reward makes all the hard work and effort worth it.
What are the rewards for serving God? If someone were to ask you about your spiritual awards, what would you tell them? Can you identify the rewards of being a Christian? Is the plaque you will receive from God something you will appreciate, or will it just gather dust? Does the prize make it all worth the effort?
Malachi offers us "Godly Insight for Today." We are not the only ones tempted to say, "What’s the use? Why should I serve Jesus?" God’s people have grumbled and complained for generations.
+ Read: Malachi 3:13-18
> SPIRITUAL MYOPIA (verses 13-15)
The people of Malachi’s day were suffering from a spiritual myopia or near-sightedness. Near-sighted individuals have a blurred or distorted perspective; they have trouble seeing things at a distance.
I call spiritual myopia "me-optic vision." "Me-optic vision" is near-sighted focusing on self. Not only does spiritual near-sightedness fail to see the needs of others, "me-optic vision" lacks an eternal perspective and can only see the here and now. Spiritual near-sightedness is unable to see the eternal rewards given to those who serve the Lord.
God had heard the people’s complaining. They said, "It’s futile to serve God" (NIV). The people focused on themselves; all they could see were their problems. In their eyes they saw those who didn’t serve God as having it better than they had it and said, "It doesn’t pay to serve the Lord; what have we gotten out of it?"
+ Malachi 3:14 ’What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord Almighty that we are sorry for our sins? (NLT)
How often are we like the people of Malachi’s day? With "me-optic vision" we too fail to see beyond the here and now. We see our neighbors seemingly coast through life without any difficulties, while hardships and problems are squeezing us tightly. "I give up! What’s the use of trying to serve God?"
"Me-optic vision" or spiritual near-sightedness focuses on our problems and lacks the eternal perspective to see what God wants to accomplish in us through those difficulties. God has a greater plan for our lives than just the present; the question is can we see it? Can we see the reward He has prepared for us?
God wants us to know the rewards He has planned for us; God does not want us to become discouraged or lose sight of what is ahead of us.
The Apostle Paul was motivated to win the reward God had prepared for him. He told the Philippians, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (3:14 NIV). He told the Corinthians, "You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win" (1 Cor. 9:24 MsgB).
Malachi shows us the rewards God has prepared for those who don’t give up; who keep their eye on the prize and run in such a way as to win the race.
However, before we look at the rewards of righteousness, I want us to notice something important.
> WE NEED EACH OTHER!
Verse 16 says, "Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other." People were complaining; "me-optic vision" had infected the church. THEN the people of God got together to talk it over.
Folks, we need each other! The Bible tells us plainly, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:25 NIV). We can’t make it on our own.
"Me-optic vision" often leads to a progression of negative responses. Three are worth noting quickly.
> Spiritual near-sightedness questions God’s Word.
Individuals will begin to question what they have learned; their faith will waiver. Some questions will never be verbalized for fear of being rejected. Unchecked, our doubts will grow, and over time these growing questions may find expression through critical statements about life being unfair. Rather than openly questioning God or His Word, the questions will turn to the world around us asking "Why?"
> Spiritual near-sightedness withdraws from fellowship.