“Where is my honour? … Where is the respect due to me?” Malachi i.6
The people of Israel thought they had done everything they could to honour God. After their return from Babylonian exile, they built a temple, appointed priests and resumed daily sacrifices. They were zealous for their God. Their leaders forced people to abandon their “foreign” wives because they thought these women could turn their hearts from the living God. They built a wall around their holy city Jerusalem so that it wouldn’t fall again to invading armies.
And yet, God was offended because His people did not honour Him. Judah called God their master. “If I am your master, where is my respect?” God asked. They called God their Father. “If I am your father, where is my honour?” Although they honoured God with their lips, they failed to honour Him with their actions. Contrary to the laws given to them, they sacrificed animals that were blind, lame or sick. Sacrifices became a convenient way to earn some religious brownie points and at the same time get rid of animals they didn’t wish to keep! God took offence at that. “Try offering them to your governor! Will he be pleased with you or show you favor?” asks the LORD. Israel didn’t have kings then. The Jews were still under a Persian king who had appointed a viceroy in their land. How could they offer to Yahweh, the King of the universe, something they wouldn’t dare to offer to a governor of a small province? This is why God hoped that someone sensible would “close the temple doors” to put an end to that hypocrisy.
What will God say to us after observing our religious “services” and our personal lives? Will He take delight in us or will He order us to stop our ‘spiritual’ show business? Our songs, prayers, sermons – all rehearsed to perfection for television – can offend and enrage the King of kings if, from our hearts, we do not truly honour Him. In the midst of “praise and worship,” we might insult the King if we aren’t obedient to His word or if we don’t give Him our best.
In our personal life, do we give God the best of our time, effort and resources? Do we despise God by offering Him what’s left over from all our selfish pursuits? Let’s give God our best! Let’s honour God with our deeds. “I am a great King,” says the Lord of hosts, “and my name will be feared among the nations.” Malachi i. 14b