Jump Start # 2893
Malachi 1:6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master, then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect? says the Lord of hosts to you, o priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’”
Malachi—the last book of the Old Testament. It isn’t a happy ending to the first section of the Bible. In fact, the final word in the book, the last word of the Old Testament, is “curse.” There was a curse in the front part of the Bible. And, now, at the close of the Old Testament comes yet again, “curse.”
Our verse today magnifies one of the many, many problems running through those times. The nation had already been in captivity. Lessons learned, one would think. But not so. The temple had been rebuilt and the people were given a second chance by God. But their hearts were weary and they were busy playing “church.” Empty, shallow and vain was their worship. And, now, through the words of Malachi, God is calling them out for their sins.
God was wanting honor and respect. But he was not receiving any. Masters and fathers would get more than what God was receiving. In all of this, we see some lessons.
First, God has expectations. He expected Israel to honor and respect Him. He expected heartfelt worship. He expected obedience. Far too many believe that God doesn’t care. God has no expectations. So whatever we do in worship is fine, because God is not looking for anything. And, that spirit is so opposite what we find in the Bible, even the Old Testament. Magnify the Lord, is what the Psalmist said. God has expectations. He did then and He does today. A casual, flippant attitude makes it seem as if God is so desperate for our attention, that he’ll take anything. He didn’t like what was going on in Malachi’s day. He didn’t accept the change in worship that Nadab and Abhiu promoted. He didn’t accept Cain’s offering.
The bar is raised high. We must come to God in excellence, doing our best. Years ago, we had what we called, “church clothes.” We only wore those clothes to church, weddings or funerals. As soon as we got home, mom told us to take off our church clothes and put on our play clothes. Many of your remember those days. The casual atmosphere of today has folks wearing “play clothes” to church because they are likely to “play” as they are to worship. Song leaders, stop walking to the front, thumbing through the song book, trying to find what song to lead. Get those songs ready early in the week. Practice them over and over. Be ready. You are coming before the king. The same could be said of class teachers, as well as those who lead the Lord’s Supper thoughts. Give God your best. He deserves excellence.
Second, the church also has expectations. When one becomes a member of a congregation, there are some responsibilities and commitments on his part. We are not bargaining over the price of a car. “I’ll be a member here, but I’ll come when I feel like it.” Excuse me? Did you not make a commitment to the Lord? Get yourself down to the church building and worship and fellowship as you ought to. We need to give, as the Bible teaches, as we have prospered. None of this pitiful giving because I’d rather keep it for myself. And, Bible classes, where are you? Maybe if some of us picked up what is expected of us, we’d grow and the church would grow.
Third, there are expectations in the home as well. If you’re married, stop acting like you are single. Get home. Tell people where you are and when you plan to be back. Stop doing just what you want to do and learn to give as well as take. When you said your vows, you “I do” to honoring, respecting and loving. And, when those things are missing, the foundation begins to crumble.
Your kids expect you to be a parent. They have friends. They have buddies. You need to parent. You need to set the rules. You need to show the example. You need to lay the law down when necessary. And, when you stop being a parent, the home suffers.
It’s amazing that we expect God to do things for us. We expect God to forgive us, every time we ask. He doesn’t owe us forgiveness. Just because we ask, He isn’t forced to forgive. It is a gift, a blessing from God. We expect God to hear our prayers. No matter how infrequent we may pray, when we do, we expect that prayer to go through and reach the Lord. We expect blessings such as another day, good health, nice weather. Those are so common that we forget that they are from God.
We wouldn’t be very happy with God if He did not live up to our expectations. Yet, how is it when those roles are reversed? God expects you. What happens when we do not live up to those expectations?
Where’s the respect? Where’s the honor? Fair questions asked by the Lord.