Whether we like to admit it or not, we humans tend to take the easy way out. It may be a harsh word to use, but our natural tendency is to either be lazy or complacent when doing things of a routine nature. And at times, that includes how we offer ourselves to God.
In the society we live in today with our wealth and technology, it’s very easy to add God into our lives instead of having him at the center of our lives. When he’s not at the center of our choices, God tends to get the leftovers of our time, money and talents. We read in Malachi that God is none too pleased when we offer him less than the best.
“‘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?’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.’ But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ ‘You place defiled food on my altar.’ But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ ‘By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Now implore God to be gracious with us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?’ -says the Lord Almighty. ‘Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my alter! I am not pleased with you,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will accept no offering from your hands. My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name because my name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
This entire passage is impactful, but I’m especially drawn to verse 10 and 11. In verse 10, God has some scathing words for his people. He literally suggests that they shut the doors of the temple, or the church, than offer our leftovers. Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that if we show up for worship and are well-behaved the rest of the week that God should be pleased. That is most definitely not the case. We are called to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) and that means being prepared to give out of the abundance that he has given us.
In verse 11, we are reminded by God of why he deserves our best. God deserves to be glorified, and he deserves to receive that glory the way he sees fit. Really, this message is directed to believers and it is a strong message: Show up for the right reasons and worship Him with all you have, in the way he has directed, or don’t show up at all. When we offer ourselves to him, it should be out of love and an act of obedience.
We see that the church at Ephesus did this in Revelation 2:1-5. They were thanked for working hard for God, but unfortunately, they were working at the wrong things. God even threatened to remove their lampstand because they had lost their first love. He instructs us very clearly on how we should give ourselves to God (Luke 10:27).
There are good reasons to give God our best. First is the glory that he receives. Second is the joy we have in worshipping him completely. And finally, he promises that if we put our faith in him wholeheartedly that he would bless us beyond compare (Malachi 3:10).