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?’ 7 “You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’ 8 “But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts.
In the Old Testament Law, offerings were to be without blemish or defect. God is pointing out to Israel that its priests, for one reason or another, were offering damaged goods to God. They were not offering Him the best. The Lord’s point about offering it to their governor instead reveals that they are offering God, their Heavenly Father, offerings that they wouldn’t even dare give to a human politician!
God is pointing out that Israel’s worship of God is not complete. It has become a half-hearted ritual that they do out of custom instead of doing it in honor of God. Have you fallen into this same trap? Most churches have activities throughout December. Maybe they just have a Christmas Eve service. Maybe there is some sort of pageant where the kids perform songs and a play. Maybe you have a time where you get together to sing carols or go out and feed the poor. Whatever traditions and rituals you observe through your congregation…do you do them because you want to or because you feel you have to? There are two passages that come to mind about this topic.
7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
Notice how Paul says that if we do things from a purposed heart, God recognizes them as good deeds? We generally judge our deeds as being good or bad only if they benefit someone else. If we give gifts, do something nice for another, or show grace to someone but do it begrudgingly, the act is worthless! It is like a spoiled offering before God. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5 regarding this:
23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
If you are trying to worship and honor God while you still have quarrels and disagreements with others, your offerings and worship mean nothing to God! When we have angst bottled up in our hearts, we cannot fully worship God. Paul said to the Romans that we should offer ourselves up to God as living sacrifices; this is our spiritual act of worship. How can we offer ourselves to God wholly if we are holding onto something? If our hearts are unsettled, we cannot worship God wholeheartedly. Our worship will be more out of ritual than it will be joy and happiness to worship Him. Remember that as believers, we are considered God’s holy priesthood, so don’t think that when God talks to “priests” that you are exempt from what follows. Read the passage from Malachi again but this time recognizing that God is talking to you directly.
God doesn’t need or want our offerings. These days we offer money and time to God. We give Him our trust, honor, and faithfulness. But if we do it because we feel we have to because it is our tradition, then what is the point? Imagine getting someone a gift for his or her birthday just because you felt you had to. You walk in the house, throw it in their lap unwrapped and say, “here, I got you something for your birthday. I didn’t really want to, but I did anyway. I hope you like it.” How will that gift be received? Imagine if you were the person receiving it. Regardless if you wanted what was given to you or not, it won’t hold much meaning. Many of us would return the gift because it is worthless to us; the giver was not willing or cheerful about it. Magnify this sentiment on a Godly level and imagine how worthless our empty praise and offering is to God, who knows our hearts so intimately. He doesn’t need anything from us, but He wants our hearts completely given over to Him.
As we prepare for Christmas this year, let us think about why we do things and how we do them. Are you a cheerful giver? Do you give for the sake of giving and honoring the recipient or do you do it out of compulsion? Let us remember that it isn’t about the size of the gift, but the quality of our giving hearts. Are your offerings to God complete, whole, and joyful or is there something holding you back? Jesus gave you His all, won’t you give Him yours?