MALACHI 3:13-15: “You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’” NLT
OBSERVATION: Am I just living only for the moment? Is my life governed by only those things that benefit me now? Are my peace and security tied to the stock market? Do I ignore the weightier matters of life as long as my little corner is safe and cozy?
The nation of Israel had an ongoing flaw. They were grumblers. They complained, wined, and moaned in Egypt, on the day of their deliverance, and when they had the opportunity to enter the Promised Land. Like Lot’s wife, they were continually looking over their shoulders, admiring the grass of someone else’s lawn.
Think about all the benefits the children of Israel were given. They were chosen out of all the people groups in the world to be God’s special people. They would be the ones who would receive God’s Word to pass down through the generations. And, it would be through Israel’s seed that the Savior of the world would come.
Yet, with all of these advantages, they still grumbled and complained.
In the message from Malachi the prophet, the Lord confronts the remnant of the great nation of Israel who had returned from the Babylonian and Assyrian captivities. Once again, failing to see God’s blessings and provisions, God challenges them saying,
- “You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord.“
Like a small child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, this small remnant of God’s people responds – ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’” God replies,
- “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’”
Have you ever felt this way? I know I have. You try to serve the Lord, love others, and follow and obey His commandments, and you wonder – “Is it all worth it?” What benefit is there to taking up one’s cross daily and following Jesus? When you look at the world around you it seems like the rich are getting richer and those who break the rules are winning the race. You look at the injustice in this world and wonder…
“Where is God?”
If we only live for the moment we will live a life of grumbling and regret. Paul put it this way,
- “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” 1 Corinthians 15:19 NLT
When we forget to live with an eternal perspective in life we set ourselves up for a life of grumbling, disappointment, and regret. So many have turned being a Christ-follower into a pathway of success and prosperity. This used to work in America because of her abundant wealth. However, this focus did not export well to third-world nations, and it is no longer working very well in America as we face rapidly growing inflation and economic unrest.
Christianity is more than a get-rich scheme. It is a calling to love and follow Jesus. It is concerned about the life to come and the fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. It is a call to give rather than receive, to bless rather than to be blessed and to serve rather than to be served. It is the way of the cross.
It is an eternal calling with an eternal reward.
As we read the following verses in the book of Malachi we are reminded of this eternal focus.
- “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.” Malachi 3:16. NLT
God’s words did not fall on deaf ears. In all of history, there has been the faithful remnant who saw past the immediate and into the eternal. These were the ones who feared God, who remained faithful, who persevered. They did this not for an immediate reward. They did this because of their love for God and His promise of a coming Kingdom of righteousness. And, to these faithful, God promised –
- “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” Malachi 3:17-18 NLT
There may be sacrifice and suffering for the moment. Yet, for those who love God, who fear His name, who walk after the Spirit of God, there will be deliverance from the day of judgment and a vindication of their faith and sacrifice. It will be on that day that the answer will be given as their names are read in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
It is worth it to serve the Lord!
Whatever sacrifice is made in this life for the Kingdom of God, there will be bountiful blessings in eternity for those who have answered the call, embraced God’s grace, and followed Jesus. In Jesus’ own words…
- “…Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30 NLT
Lord, forgive me for the times I have grumbled and complained. Give me the grace to keep my eye on Your eternal promise. Help me to remain faithful – rejoicing that my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, and that I will hear you say,
- “…Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” Matthew 25:23 NLT
In Jesus’ Name!