MALACHI 3:13-15: “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the LORD, “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we have walked as mourners Before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’ ”. NKJV
OBSERVATION: Does it pay to serve God? When you look at the world around you sometimes you can grow discouraged. The proud are blessed and the wicked prosper. Those who oppose God’s Word are esteemed while those who stand up for the truth are vilified. We too might be tempted to say – “It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance?”
If you have ever felt this way, or if you feel this way right now, you are not alone. There is a whole Psalm devoted to this very topic, Psalm 73. Throughout the ages God’s people have wrestled with the question – “Why do the wicked prosper?” The wicked, under a cloak of darkness, seems to get away with their disdain for God and His truth. Meanwhile, as we endeavor to be faithful, we are ridiculed and marginalized.
Is God even listening?
God is always listening. He hears the cry of our heart and he understands our fear and pain. Yet, we also need to understand the heart of God. When we fall into this pattern of doubt and questioning, when we allow our thoughts and words to echo these questions, we grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Malachi writes the word of the Lord,
- “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the LORD.”
Sometimes we feel like we can say anything to God. He is big enough to take it. While this is true, and the book of Psalms is a testimony to this, it is not without consequence. Our Heavenly Father grieves when we turn our backs upon Him. When we fall into doubt and unbelief we grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells within our hearts. We must realize that whatever does not proceed out of faith is sin. And, the only remedy for sin is repentance.
- “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:8-9 NKJV
So, what do we do when we find ourselves in the grips of doubt and despair? We come to the Lord in repentance. We humble ourselves under His mighty hand and ask for more grace to endure. We replace our words of doubt with the truth of His Word. We reaffirm what He has said and who He is. And, as we do…
- “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.” Malachi 3:16-17 NKJV
Let’s break this down. When we cry out to the Lord, when we humble ourselves before Him, He always listens. He understands our struggles and our weakness and He gives more grace to the humble. The humble are those who fear Him, reverence His name, place themselves in His care. He remembers every prayer and every sacrifice of faith and praise that we have offered in His name. He writes them in a book of remembrance. They are always before Him!
Then, He declares His love and faithfulness over our lives. God’s justice will come to this world. The unrighteous will one day give an account for their lives. Those who are clothed in His righteousness will shine forth like a jewel. They will be preserved and protected on the day of judgment. They will enter into the joy of their Master and they will know that it truly pays to serve the Lord!
- “Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.” Malachi 3:18 NKJV
Lord, this morning I succumbed to discouragement. I questioned Your faithfulness in my life. I wondered if it all mattered. Thank You for Your Word that always rescues us in our time of need. Forgive me for my doubt. Cleanse me and make me new. Give me the grace to face today and to know that You have not forgotten my yesterdays and that You always hold my tomorrows.
In Jesus Name!