May 23, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Sarah Song, Gracepoint Austin

Malachi 1:6-8

What is the cry of God’s heart as demonstrated in these verses? The cry of God’s heart is that his people, his priests would stop dishonoring him. That they would stop relating to God in this meaningless, hurtful, mechanical way. He’s addressing them to stop and think about their actions, to think whether what they are doing is acceptable and to repent for their ways. From this text, I can feel His hurt when he angrily asks them to try giving their governor the same kinds of sacrifices they’ve been giving to Him.  He’s so affected by his people b/c He cares about His relationship with them. He cares about how they view him, how they approach and treat Him. God’s heart cries out for them to relate with Him properly as their King and Lord.

In what ways did the people show contempt for God’s name? What does this reveal about their view of God? The people showed contempt for God’s name by bringing defiled animals as sacrifices, bringing blind, crippled, diseased animals.  I think their act is so revealing of their attitude and view of God.   They viewed God like other idols – merely having to fulfill their religious obligations and duties. You can tell that God was very low on their list of priorities, not someone they took seriously nor had a personal connection with. They just needed to give their stated sacrifices and it didn’t matter what condition it was in.

What is revealed in people’s response of “How have we shown contempt for your name?” What may explain their response? It shows that the people were truly disconnected from God and themselves. It seems so obvious as I read this text the wrong that the priests were doing and pretty surprising that they could respond in this way. But, when I think more about it, I know that their level of disconnection is not that hard to imagine nor something that could’ve only happened to them.  What could explain their response and level of blindness to their wrongs even as God confronts them?  I think one of the reasons might have been b/c their position and duty no longer was about God.  All of the temple worship and sacrifices had become just a job, a set of rituals that they had become used to, and just position and a way to get a living. Being a priest of God had lost its real meaning.  There was no sense of privilege as God’s priests. No longer any awe and that reverent fear of God nor awareness of the gravity of their duty and that each time they sacrificed an animal, they were reconciling a sinner with God and cleansing that person of their sins.  In that mindset, no wonder they didn’t have a sense of problem about what kind of animals they gave, just as long as they were doing something.  Just as long as they were doing what they were told, as long as they were going through the motions of sacrifice, possibly doing what others around them were doing.  Their focus was not on God.  I can imagine that God became replaced by focusing on what other people thought and said about them, on their status and the benefits of what it brought them. Honoring God was replaced by convenience and what seemed “practical”.

Are there ways in which I am offering up “blind animals for sacrifice” and “crippled or diseased animals” to God? I can see that I’m not exempt from behaving the same way. Even though I don’t have to offer physical sacrifices, I can easily go through the motions of honoring God, yet, in my heart be so disconnected and far from Him.  I do this when I limit how much I’m willing to sacrifice and lower myself for others, doing the bare minimum in order to appear “ok”. Instead of serving and loving and taking ownership of people, which involves a lot of emotional and mental work and thinking and praying, there have been times when loving people and meeting needs were more like an afterthought once I have my own schedule and needs met and if I have room and space in my heart and mind for other people, then I’ll think about them. Instead of prioritizing my DT and prayer times during the times when I’m most alert, just out of convenience I’ve pushed it off until later when I have time to spare in order to get other things done.  I do this when I lose focus on my relationship with God and my position as staff is about pleasing other people or my leaders, wanting to go along with what everyone else is doing and going through the motions of honoring God, but in my heart refusing to confront the sins and areas of my life that I want to hold onto.  Again, objectively, this issue of bringing blind and crippled animals doesn’t seem like a big deal.  However, it IS a big deal in the context that the people were doing this to the Holy God, that they were disregarding God and their relationship with Him.  In this context, their seemingly small act reveals their ugly sin and spiritual complacency, and these acts that I’ve committed are the same. There’s a sense of fear of how blind I can become to myself and to how much God is being dishonored and hurt by my actions if I am not allowing God’s word and his people to convict me of my sins regularly and dealing with them truthfully.

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