“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord‘s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts… I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.
“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering… 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 1:6-8,10-11,13-14
Ananias and Sapphira were similarly condemned. They sold a piece of property to share the proceeds with the church, but let the temptation of greed and dishonesty win out over full disclosure. Their ‘contrived deeds’ brought strong judgment; God would not be mocked. (Acts 5:1-4; Galatians 6:7)
How prone we are to giving half-heartedly, with us in mind rather than God. We gather, accumulate, see ourselves as king of our own, then dispense with chintzy hands, casting only a glance skyward to get a nod for our meager offerings. We have great intentions, even make bold promises, but try to justify weak execution when once we consider the ‘loss’ to us. We see so dimly.
Malachi walks through all the machinations of our polluted hearts, pointing out spot on the contradictions in our allegiances, the inconsistencies in our arguments, the lack of reverence in our sacrifices (if we can even call them that), the greed in our attitudes. He condemns our snorting and selfishness, our weariness with correction and conviction, our impure motives and distorted excuses. As God’s prophet, he reminds us it is the vertical look that should rule, the pure heart that should decide, the open fist that should offer, the high honor of God as Father, Master, King, and Lord of hosts that should compel our actions. He alone is worthy of my first and best.
Lord, convict me of any hesitancy to give You my all and very best. Guard me from withholding for myself, my pleasure, my security what You deserve. May I give and live generously from a pure heart in thanks to You, Source and Ruler of all. (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)