Mal 1:13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.
The book of Malachi challenges both the priests and the laymen. In typical fashion, the prophet (Malachi's name means "my messenger") calls the people to personal responsibility. The LORD has some hard things to say to these people (the priests in particular for starters). But before He rebukes them for their iniquities, He reminds them of His love.
Mal 1:2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob (KJV)
Israel could look to their preservation and election as a nation as proof that God loved them. We can look to an even greater demonstration of God's love for us. It can be found in the book of Romans. For many of us, love is an abstract concept. When the modern mind thinks of love, it often thinks of emotion. Certainly love involves emotion, but the biblical concept of love also is defined by action. One of the most frequently quoted passages of scripture in weddings comes from I Corinthians chapter 13. What I find interesting is that Paul describes love (the biblical kind of love) in terms of demonstration. What does love look like? It is kind, patient, not insisting on its own way, etc. etc. It should come as no surprise, that when Paul describes God's love to the Roman church he also speaks in terms of action:
Rom 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)
Now, back to Malachi for a moment. As we read further into the first chapter, we learn that the priests had become disillusioned with working for God and ministering on behalf of the people. They decided that God's standards were too high, and they had no intentions of honoring them. (ref Mal 1:7,8). They were content with giving God a type of sub-standard service that they would never dream of giving to a mere earthly ruler (Mal 1:8b).
Apparently this didn't happen overnight. As is the case with many of us, it probably happened by degrees. When they are called into account, they sincerely ask the question "How have we despised your name?" (Mal 1:6b). I believe at times we suffer from the same spiritual apathy and lethargy that they experienced. How do we go from being passionate about our walk with Christ to the attitude of "oh what a weariness"? Probably easier, than one might expect!
Religion is not a dirty word. As a matter of fact, James says that we must have a "pure religion" (James 1:27) that is more than simply lip-service. Having said that though, there is an inherent danger that we must guard against. Our religious duties can become so routine and ritual, that we simply go lifelessly through the motions. For many, Christianity has become nothing more than "attending church", singing a few choruses, hearing a sermon (often with little scriptural content) and then punching out until the next time we "clock in" for duty. After a while, even these disciplines will become a weariness to us. Instead of earnest prayer, we will say "what a weariness!". Instead of gathering to fellowship with other believers we will respond "I'm just too tired".
So what is the solution? I believe the prophet Malachi's method of delivering the message from God was intentional. How do we go from frustration, discontentment, and apathy, to passionate worship and service again? I believe the answer is love. Now here is where a little honesty will go a long way. Do you know what the Israelites said when God told them He loved them? In case you didn't know, I'll show you:
Mal 1:2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?" "Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob (ESV)
Now before you jump all over their case and say "how could they say such a thing?"....take an inventory of how we handle disappointment(s). There are times in life when our present circumstances do not appear to line up with our ideas of love. There are times when situational outcomes do not meet our expectations. Often there are periods of long waiting in -between prayers and answers (or manifestations of the answers). Perhaps this is why Paul cautioned us not to be "weary in well-doing" (Gal 6:9).
This is when we have to go back to the beginning and warm ourselves in the fires of God's love. God reminded them about how He had preserved them as a nation (leading them out of Egyptian bondage, meeting them on Mt. Sinai & giving them the law, bringing them back from Babylonian captivity and allowing them to rebuild the temple, etc, etc.). We have to remember too, that God loved us when we were terribly unlovable (Romans 5:8). Furthermore, God (through Paul) reminds us that we must NEVER gauge His love for us based on present circumstances (which are always subject to change!!!!).
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
Rom 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Maybe you are at that place of weariness today. Consider this your friendly reminder that God loves you! And consider it an exhortation to give God your very best. Not just because He's worthy (which He certainly is!) but because you love Him so much and He loves you with an everlasting love!
Until next time.....