“And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 1:8
I’ve been reading through the Bible this year, and yesterday I read Malachi. I don’t know about you, but I often think that I won’t find anything pertinent in some of the Old Testament books. Boy, was I wrong! The whole Word of God is full of messages from our heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit knows exactly what we need to hear.
The verse above is a good example. Written to the Israelites who had returned to Jerusalem with Ezra to rebuild the temple, the verse shows their lacks of commitment to the Mosaic Law. It was not a matter of not knowing what to do; they just were not doing it. When we compare their worship to that of the Israelites who first brought gifts for the tabernacle, we see quite a difference. Four times in chapter thirty-five we read of their willingness, and then in chapter thirty-six we read:
“And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.” (Sounds like some of our covered-dish dinners!)
So who do we resemble? Does God get the best or the left-overs? When we dress for church, do we put on our best? I know some will say it doesn’t matter – that God sees the heart, but I wonder.
Matthew Henry put it this way:
If we worship God ignorantly, and without understanding, we bring the blind for sacrifice; if we do it carelessly, if we are cold, dull, and dead in it, we bring the sick; if we rest in the bodily exercise, and do not make heart-work of it, we bring the lame; and if we suffer vain thoughts and distractions to lodge within us, we bring the torn. And is not this evil? Is it not a great affront to God, and a great wrong and injury to our own souls? In order to the acceptance of our actions with God, it is not enough to do that which, for the matter of it, is good; but we must do it from a right principle, in a right manner, and for a right end. Our constant mercies from God, make worse our slothfulness and niggardliness (not generous, small or inadequate), in our returns of duty to God.
It’s a bit wordy (I had to read it a couple of times!), but I think he hits the nail on the head. God deserves our best, we all know that; however, we are such good liars to ourselves! We say we don’t have the time, but if we take a careful look at our schedules, we will see what the “god” of our lives really is. I hear excuses for not coming out on Sunday night and Wednesday night. I mean, who thought that up anyway. It doesn’t say in the Bible that we have to have Sunday night church or Wednesday night! Correct: seven times in the book of Acts, it mentions that the people DAILY came to worship!
“Our constant mercies from God, make worse our slothfulness and niggardliness (not generous, small or inadequate), in our returns of duty to God.” How sad that we take advantage of God’s mercy.
Last week, in the teen’s Sunday school class, I asked the students why they obeyed an authority in their lives. They came up with about seven very good reasons, but the one that I was looking for was missing: love. Love is the greatest motivator. It causes burly men to put on an apron and do the dishes; it makes women smile when he walks across the newly washed floor in muddy boots; it drives the young man to do really crazy things and the young woman to melt…and it kept Jesus on the cross.
I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
Who died upon the cruel tree?
To think of His great sacrifice at Calv’ry!
I know my Lord expects the best from me.
I wonder, have I cared enough for others,
Or have I let them die alone?
I might have helped a wand’rer to the Saviour,
The seed of precious Life I might have sown.
The refrain heaps question upon question:
How many are the lost that I have lifted?
How many are the chained I’ve helped to free?
I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
When He has done so much for me?
The following is from Wordwise Hymns:
What exactly is a hero? Certainly Edward Spencer would qualify. He was a student at Northwestern University in 1860, when a steamer called Lady Elgin was wrecked off the shores of Lake Michigan. Despite numerous injuries from floating wreckage, he repeatedly dashed into the raging surf to rescue passengers in mortal peril. Seeing his deteriorating condition, others tried to stop him, but on he went. He is credited with saving 18 people, one by one, finally collapsing in utter exhaustion. It is reported that, as he lay all night in the infirmary, he repeated over and over, “Did I do my best, fellows? Have I done my best?”
Spencer is honoured by a plaque in the gymnasium of Northwestern University. But there are a couple of sad footnotes to his story. He was so badly injured that apparently he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. And when visited in later years he said with tears, “Not one [of those rescued] ever came back and even said thank you.” Though he undoubtedly did not rescue them in order to earn their gratitude, it is a sad commentary on our frequent failure in this area.
In 1924 Ensign Edwin Young (1895-?) heard Spencer’s story and published a song that draws a spiritual lesson from the incident. (Ensign was not a title of rank, but was Young’s first name.) Young served as Dean of the School of Music at Hardin-Simmons University, in Texas 1934-1956. I have been unable to find the dates of his birth and death. His song raises the penetrating question, Have I Done My Best for Jesus?