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Persistent Love - Inconvenient Worship

Malachi 1:6-14


Giving God anything less than the very best is worthless because it is out of convenience, which God rejects.


Malachi 1:6-14: “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be[a] great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.


What do you do with the stuff that you don’t want? My guess is you try to sell it, give it away, recycle it, or dump it, right? As a pastor’s kid growing up in Pakistan, I witnessed people bringing their molded, discarded stuff that no one wanted for the pastor and his children. Essentially, they treated us like beggars along with the God they worshiped. I thought the problem was limited to Pakistan, but when I was involved in a mission drive in New York City, I learned it is a deep-rooted issue everywhere among God’s people to give God discarded leftovers. I cannot even tell you the type of stuff we received. There were old sticky hair dryers from the 70’s, ripped and stained dresses, and many things that went straight into the trash.


Why do people offer God what they would never offer to a man? Giving God anything less than the very best is worthless because it is out of convenience, which God rejects.


In this passage, Malachi 1:6-14, God described the state of worship He rejected along with all the offerings people gave because they were nothing but worthless worship of convenience.


God can never accept worthless worship out of convenience in response to His love revealed in all His blessings. So, how do you respond to His persistent love? Do you give God discarded leftovers that no one wants? Or do you offer God the very best? Here we learn that any worship out of convenience is worthless, and God doesn’t want it. In our text, we discover three reasons why God rejects worship out of convenience.


His Name


When we worship God out of convenience, we despise His Name. Verses 6-9 say, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?”


God’s persistent, unconditional, unilateral, independent, irrevocable love for Israel expressed in verses 1-5 should have been met with the honor, respect, and reverence that God as father and as master deserves. But what we see in this chapter is a sense of entitlement. It seems that they did not learn anything from their 70 years in exile. The word for love that God used in verses 1-5 was the Hebrew word ahab, which is the love between husband and wife, father and son, essentially love that we experience in a family unit. Verse 6 continues with the theme of a family and

household that includes the relationship between master and servant.


God challenged them with one of the ten commandments in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” His challenge seems to be that if they were commanded to do that to their earthly parents, how much more should they do to their heavenly father? My son, Arius, saw me working on my sermon, and he said, Dad, I know this commandment, “Honor your father and mother, or you will get a whooping.” I asked him who taught him that, and he said he added the “whooping” part. Arius’ exposition is not too far from what God is communicating here.


The Israelites neither honored God nor feared Him, which is evident in their worship. The Hebrew word for honor in verse 6 is kabod, meaning “heavy” or “weighty.” To honor someone is to give or grant authority in our lives. The word fear is mora in Hebrew, meaning “respect” or “reverence.” Worship is nothing but the expression of an internal feeling of honor, reverence, and adoration of God. God does not want us to worship Him out of fear but out of respect and reverence because He is our Father and Lord, another word for master.


Are you familiar with the Waze app? It warns you if a police car is approaching so that you can slow down. You see, if we obey the law out of fear of the cops seeing us, we have missed the point. We will do the right thing only when it is convenient. However, when we do the right thing out of respect for the law, it helps us to avoid potential harm to ourselves and others.


In this passage, God is holding the priests in contempt by saying they despise God’s name because they were responsible for teaching the word of God accurately. Probably, they were preaching fear and obligation, which is common in many churches even today where shame, guilt, fear, and obligation are preached to make people act in a certain way and do certain things, but God says that is not how He wants it. He wants worship out of love, honor, respect, and reverence. Notice how oblivious the priests were of their errors: the last part of verse 6 says, “But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?


In verses 7-9, God tells them how they have despised His name, “By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.”


In verse 7, God says that when you offer less than perfect offerings upon my altar, you despise my altar, and they said, okay, but how does that pollute you? In verse 8, God reminds them of Levitical laws. Deuteronomy 15:21 sums up the sacrificial laws by saying, “But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.”


The priests saw no harm in it. God pointed out two problems: a). If no governor would accept a second-rate gift, why in the world do they think God would? b). The true purpose of the sacrifices and offerings was to thank God and was intended to mend the relationship between people and God, and it was doing the opposite.


What is the application here? In Malachi’s context, God’s name was God’s identity and precious possession for it distinguished Him from the other gods that people worshiped. This is true in our context, too. So, honor Him, revere Him, for God is worthy of our worship. This is how His name will be honored among nations.


His House


When we worship God out of convenience, we detest His House. Verses 10-11 say, “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place, incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.”


In verse 10, God would rather have His temple closed down than receive half-hearted worship. In Barcelona, Spain, the well-known church Sagrada Família has been under construction for over 140 years now. Imagine how, when construction is finally completed, the Spanish people would feel if the government said to shut it down. 70 years earlier, Israel’s national pride, Solomon’s Temple, was destroyed, and during 70 years in exile, they longed to rebuild it. And now that they have, God is telling them to shut it down. Why?


Because they were more interested in the temple than the God of the temple. Their offerings were an abomination that God would not accept. In verse 11, God, addressing the entitlement that Israel always had in being God’s chosen people, pronounces His plan to make His name known to the nations by opening gates of grace to the nations through His Son Jesus. The promise of verse 11 is being fulfilled even right now as believers in Christ gather all over the world to worship God in spirit and truth.


The objective of honor, respect, and reverence for God was to produce an obedient heart that gives authority to God, for He is worthy. However, when it is done out of resentment, obligation, and convenience, it becomes worthless worship.


When your kids listen to you, it makes you feel honored and respected, right? But when they ignore you until there is a threat – you feel disrespected and dishonored. Any worship done out of fear and resentment is worthless.


What is the application here? Do not offer God what has not cost you anything. The text says, do not kindle fire on His altar in vain. Why? Because God is not interested in lip service. He is interested in your obedient heart. So, ask yourself, how do I honor God in my worship?


His Table


When we worship God out of convenience, we defile His Table. Verses 12-13 says, “But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.”


Finally, God gets to the heart of the matter. The lack of honor and respect in their hearts showed in their actions. They treated God’s worship like a burden. If an animal was killed in the field, fell ill, or was not worth keeping or eating at home, they would bring that to God’s table. Imagine hosting a dinner at a fancy restaurant, and a friend of yours shows up with roadkill with maggots in it. Do you feel disgusted by my description? Now think how God felt, to whom it was offered.


The problem was not that they did not have good things to offer; they did not want to give them to God, and the priests didn’t say anything. Notice, what God says in verse 14, “ Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”


Money is the easiest way to visualize this, but we do this in all areas of our lives. We give God the discarded leftovers that no one wants and label them under “God understands.” Yes, He does, but do we understand? Do we understand how God feels when we give discarded leftovers of our time and possessions to God? Neither does God want our few minutes out of convenience offered in a quick prayer, devotion, and service, nor does He want a few dollars thrown in the offering plate out of convenience, guilt, or burden. If I throw five dollars or whatever change I have in my pocket out of convenience in the offering plate and then go home and book a cruise for $5000 because I deserve a good vacation, this should show you to whom I give the best.


In Genesis 4, God rejected Cain’s offering not because God is a meat eater or because Cain brought rotten fruits and vegetables. God rejected it because of His heart. It was not the very best He could offer. When he killed his brother, Abel, his defiled heart was exposed.


One day a young woman walked into a church. She was ushered to her seat. It was her first time. God had changed her heart, and she was there to worship God. She lifted her hands up and praised God and did not think of what others would think of her. She wept, laughed, and worshiped. Then came the time of offering; the plate was passed. She did not know what to do for she had no money. She put the plate on the floor, rose up on her feet, and once more praised God and said, “The money I don’t have, but I give what I do have, my heart, my thoughts, my mind, my very being, I give you all because you are worthy. You are worthy!”


God can never accept worthless worship of convenience because that despises His name, detests His house, and defiles His Table. If you think this is about money, you have missed the point. God is not after your money. He is after you. He is smart, and He knows where your security lies. He wants to be your security. He wants to be all in all in your life. When He gets you, He gets everything you have, and in return, you get everything that He has.


When you watch your favorite sports team play, what do you do? You get excited. And enthusiastically, you cheer for your team, don’t you? Where does that spirit go when you come to worship God? God’s persistent love is ultimately revealed in His act of self-sacrifice on the cross. If we do the bare minimum in return, God’s Word teaches, shut it down. God does not want the discarded leftovers that no one wants. Unless following and worshiping God creates some inconvenience in your life, you cannot really say it is sacrificial, can you?


Do not offer God what has not cost you anything. God was confronting the people in Malachi’s time by exposing their defiled hearts. God might be confronting you through the power of His Word right now. I invite you to repent and offer the worship that God deserves.


Worship was a burden to the people of Malachi. Their hearts were not in it; therefore, they cheated God. Do not cheat God. They thought they were giving the best, but they knew that they saved the best for themselves. Do not save the best for yourselves. God deserves the very best we have. It is true even right now, right here as you worship. Raise your voices, your heart, mind, all that you are for Him, for He is worthy.


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