Care Enough To Send The Very Best

Care Enough To Send The Very Best

Care Enough To Send The Very Best

Scripture Text – Malachi 1:6-14

A few years after my mother’s death, one of her close friends died. The
funeral was to be held on a Sunday after church, and I didn’t find out about
her death until late that Saturday night. Despite the short notice, and after
attending two church services (7:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.), I still drove an hour
to make it to the funeral. The service was graveside and it wasn’t going to
last very long, but I felt I had to be there because this woman was really
special to my mom. After the service, we all headed back to the house where I
had a chance to express my sympathy to the family through hugs and words of
comfort. On my way back home, I thought to myself, "I could have at least
brought a card," but why beat myself up about it? If I couldn’t make the
service, then yes, maybe that Hallmark card would have been my very best.
However, by going there in person, I had sent the very best that I could send
–myself.

In this week’s text we see the Lord asking his children (Israel),
"Where is my honor?" He tells them, "A son honors his father and
a servant his master. If I am a father where is the honor due me? If I am a
master, where is the respect due me?" So the Lord’s children aren’t
sending Him their very best. Now the reason this is occurring is largely due to
the priests of Israel. You see, Israel was giving God animals as sacrifices,
but those animals were blind, crippled, and diseased. If the priests would have
stood up and told them, "These sacrifices are not worthy of our God!!!
Bring nothing but your best," then Israel wouldn’t have been in this
situation. Since the priests were responsible for the sacrifices brought to
God, the Lord focuses primarily on correcting the priests’ ungodly actions.

The Lord tells the priests, "It is YOU, O priest, who show contempt for
my name. But you ask, ‘How have WE shown contempt for your name?’ BY PLACING
DEFILED FOOD ON MY ALTAR" (7th). The Lord also tells them, "But you
ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible
[deserving dishonor and disrespect]." Now, we all know the saying,
"Actions speak louder than words." The priests did not actually say, "the
Lord’s table is contemptible," but they did so with their actions. As they
allowed these improper offerings to be brought to the Lord’s table, their
actions spoke those words.

Next, the Lord tells them, "try giving these offerings to your
governor! Would he be pleased? Would he accept you?" (8th) More than
likely, such an act may cause one to be thrown in prison or lose the governor’s
favor. Yet the priests expected the Lord to take those insufficient sacrifices
and be pleased.

In the 9th verse, we see Malachi interject his plea. He states, "Now
implore God to be gracious to US. With such offerings from your hands, will he
accept you?" Also take note of the YOU at the end of Malachi’s statement.
He is telling the priests, "Look, we need God’s grace upon us because what
we have done is wrong. If YOU keep giving these bad offerings YOU will not be
accepted, but I’m going to fully bless Him with the pleasing sacrifices He
deserves so that He can bless ME!" (You Go Boy!!!!!)

After Malachi’s plea, the Lord speaks to priests again and tells them in so
many words, "I wish that just one of you would just shut the temple doors,
so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with
you and I will accept NO offering from your hands" (10th). NOW LET’S LOOK
AT THIS! Israel had given such bad offerings that the Lord was not accepting
ANY offerings from them any more – EVEN FIRE. Now I know this is bad English
but say this a couple of times, "When Yo Fire’s Bad" "When Yo
Fire’s Bad." Now here’s the jackpot question: "How messed up do you
have to be to make yo’ fire bad?" Well we know that Israel had reached
that point. The Lord didn’t even want them to light His candles. (That’s when
yo’ fire’s bad!) Or think of it this way — They had written so many bad
checks that even their future checks were not being accepted.

Next the Lord tells these priests, "Well if you won’t praise me with
pure offerings, I’ll make my name great among the Gentiles [your enemies] and
in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for
my name shall be great among the heathen" (11th). Now what happens when
pure offerings are given unto the Lord? Pure blessings are poured out of
heaven. So if Israel doesn’t get it together, the Lord will allow their enemies
to get blessed. And if this happens, what’s next? Well that nation, through
God’s favor, will become a mighty force. Now if your enemy has the Lord’s
strength and you don’t, do you expect your enemy to sit back and do nothing?
No!! Their next step would probably be to conquer the weaker nation and make
their defeated captives serve their God. So now the priests have plenty to
think about, because their actions have put the existence of Israel in
jeopardy.

In the 12th verse, the Lord spells out their crime one more time. The
priests have profaned His name in two ways:
(1) By saying of the Lord’s table, "it is defiled" [remember – they
said this by their actions].
(2) By saying of the Lord’s food, "It is contemptible (deserving no
respect)" This too was done by the actions of not giving their best.
He even describes how they act toward their own sacrifices, "You say,
‘what a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously. Should I accept them from
your hands?" Not only do the priests turn their noses up at their own
offerings, but they expect the Lord to accept those same offerings.

Well, now that the scolding is over, it’s time for the punishment. The Lord
says, "Cursed be the CHEAT who HAS an acceptable male in his flock and
vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a
great king, and my name is to be feared among all nations" (14th). Now he
didn’t say, "Cursed is the man who gives very little." He said,
"Cursed is the CHEAT"–that person who has it to give but decides to
keep it for him/herself. You see God doesn’t want the Mercedes you don’t have,
the huge house you don’t have or the $50,000 a month you don’t have. All He
wants is your best!!

He wants us to "Offer [our bodies] as living sacrifice[s] holy
and pleasing unto God" (Romans 12:1). He wants us to "Bring the whole
tithe into the storehouse" (Malachi 3:10). Therefore, every day
that we live we should care enough to send the very best. Every
week/biweek/month that we get blessed by Him financially we should care
enough to send the very best. We should thank God and give Him our best
offerings which will be seen as holy and pleasing unto Him. After all, He did
care enough to send His very best — Jesus!!!