Offering God Less than the Best (Part 4)
If you offer less than the best to God, you must change your attitude or risk God’s curse.
But you profane it when you say that he 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. (Malachi 1:12-14)
After Malachi prophesied about the Gentiles giving worship to God, he turns back to the priests to reiterate their sin and explain it further. “But you profane it.” At its root the word “profane” means to treat or make as common or ordinary. It is the opposite of the word “holy” which means set apart. Their holy meal in the sanctuary was not holy; it was a profane or common meal because they brought ordinary animals. They said, or thought, that the table was defiled, and its food contemptible. Of course, they would not say this out loud – they were priests, after all, and they had to say the right things in the services; but in the way that they worshiped they were saying this.
And even worse, Malachi says they are not even trying to hide their true feelings. In verse 13 he adds, “But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts.” The snorting must be some kind of gesture or expression of disgust; to them it was a drudgery to do it, a pain in the neck. There was no joy in worship, no delight in serving God.
This attitude prevails today in so many circles of worship where the ritual has become a routine, and then it becomes drudgery. People go through the service, but it is something to endure. And sometimes ministers, for one reason or another, might become bored, or indifferent, or maybe they get burned out. They need to turn the service over to someone else until they can get their spiritual perspective restored. Genuine praise and thanksgiving, pure worship, will go a long way to bringing life back into the service.
The Lord asks through the prophet, “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?” What an insult! The message concludes with a curse: “Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.” The word “curse” basically means removed from blessing, or loss of the blessing. If people keep the best for themselves, and offer God the junk, God may take away the best they have, or even their lives, as he did in Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphira lied to God about what they were giving.
At the beginning of Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira saw the other believers selling their belongings and giving the money to the apostles so they could distribute it to other believers who were lacking. God was blessing and this new young church was growing, so they thought they would get in on this and look good to all the others. They sold a piece of property and gave part of the money to the apostles. But they lied and said it was all the money. Peter said they did not lie to men but to God. As it turns out, lying to God is not a good idea. Both husband and wife dropped dead as soon as the lie was told. They made a promise to give one offering and gave a lesser offering. Like the priests of Malachi’s day, they had the wrong attitude in their worship.
Our attitude in worship is vitally important. We cannot have an attitude of laziness in our worship like the priests did. Their attitude flowed down to the people. When the people saw the priests did not really care about the offerings, they began to bring less than what they had promised, less than what God demanded. God’s curse came along with trying to cheat him. God forbid you should come to him in worship claiming your heart, motives, and attitude are pure when you know they are not.
The priests, and congregation, in Malachi’s day had lost their passion for the true worship of a holy God. Have you? Jesus told the woman at the well that the Father was seeking worshipers who would worship in spirit and truth. Worship must be honest and spiritual; the worshipers must put their heart into it and offer to God the best that they have, and the best that they can do. Remember, the worship you offer is a reflection of the value you place on the God you claim to worship. Is your worship a reflection of his holiness? If you have been offering less than your best to God, you must seek his favor and offer true worship. If you have gotten into a habit of lazy worship, you must change your attitude. Our worship must come from a pure heart with pure motives and a proper attitude toward God. Anything less is rejected by God and is less than your best.