Weekly Word from Bro. David
December 8, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
We're in Malachi 3 again today, as we finish looking at only three verses. But these three verses have the potential of being some of the most convicting verses we've studied in this series. I've entitled the series Going Through the Motions. And tonight we see one of the results of going through the motions. It leads to thinking only of yourself, whining, fussing, and complaining. So, from Malachi 3:13-15 I want to talk to you about this subject: be a winner, not a whiner. Malachi says: 13 "Your words have been harsh against Me," Says the Lord, "Yet you say, 'What have we spoken against You?' 14 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? 15 So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.' "
Well here, that's all the people of God are doing, whining. They are whining and complaining about their problems. They are whining about serving God. They are complaining because God doesn't do what they expect Him to do.
But let's be honest, we have all come to find ourselves whining at some point or another. You know as well as I do that it doesn't stop once you become an adult. In fact, some of the biggest crybabies I know have kids of their own!
But whining and complaining is always a symptom of a deeper issue. It tells us something about who a person is. What's the difference between one person who has joy in the midst of struggles and the other who crumbles under their weight? What's inside a person will eventually come out. The same is true with God's people in Malachi. We see that their whining is evidence of a greater problem.
We have seen that whining is evidence of self-deception: vs. 13 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” says the Lord, “Yet you say, 'What have we spoken against You?'”
We have also seen whining is evidence of self-centeredness: 14 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?’
And now lastly we see that whining is evidence of self-pity: 15 So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.
The people of God act as though they have been faithful and righteous. Even though we know they're just going through the motions, they are deceived and they think of themselves as faithful. So, they can't understand why they suffer and wicked people prosper.
This verse is a restatement of the age-old question so prominent in the Book of Job: Why do the evil prosper and the righteous suffer?
“The proud” or arrogant in vs. 15 refers to people with an “attitude or behavior that ignores or rejects the validity of God's authority,” who have an “exaggerated opinion of their self-importance,” or who “arrogantly mock those who follow God's instructions and attempt to take away the rights of the godly by violent acts.”
They are wallowing in self-pity. To them, it seems like the wicked were prospering while the godly were suffering. It would have been difficult for the Jews to prove that they were “Godly,” because they were guilty of disobeying the Lord. God would have blessed them if they had yielded themselves to Him, but they preferred to have their own way and then complain about what didn't happen.
Listen to their complaint. They look at the “evil” and “proud” and it seems like they are “blessed.” Even though God had promised to bless His people, when His people looked around they couldn't see any of the blessings of God. It seemed to them like “Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.”
Do you see their arrogance, rebellion, and self-pity? Keeping God's commands has not brought them any benefit, and neither has their repentance when they have failed to keep them. Whatever they have done, they feel that they are the losers.
The people of God now find themselves in a situation where they envy the wicked and pity themselves. This is exactly what we see in verse 15. They are envious of the “proud” and they say they are “blessed.” In contrast, they feel like they are cursed. They see the “evildoers” and notice that they “prosper” and “escape” the judgment of God. But they feel as if they are experiencing God's judgment.
Envying other people's happiness is fatal to our confidence in God. Distant fields are always greener. But more to the point, God's people here are envying those who are openly and successfully arrogant. The people who were speaking “hard” words against God were envious of those who put God to the test and got away with it.
God is patient with sinners; he does not strike us down dead the moment we sin. He is patient because he wants to give us time to repent and be forgiven. But his patience is also risky, because it might make us think that sin does not matter, and it might make others think that they can get away with the same sin. Comparing ourselves with others will always leave us either discontented or arrogant. It is an unhealthy approach to life, and always makes us unhappy.
We are all more naturally inclined to think about what God has not given us or has not done for us, as well as about all that we have done for God. Spend some time each day for two weeks praising God for every good gift He has given you, small or great.
God's people think the wicked are getting away with their sin. Malachi gives an answer in Malachi 4:1. We can't see God's plan and we don't know His timing. We need to trust Him!
After a tough and discouraging day at work, Melvin plopped himself on the couch and began wallowing in self-pity. He moaned to his wife, “Nobody cares about me. In fact, the whole world hates me.” Without even looking up from her work, Melvin's wife replied, “That's not true, honey. The whole world couldn't possibly hate you, because most of them don't even know you.”
You are here to serve God: God is not here to serve you! Malachi's people robbed God, and they spoke harsh words of resentment against God. This shows that they were fundamentally self-centered, not God-centered, that they were selfish at a very deep level, rather than worshipping and serving God alone. They had made idols of themselves, and in so doing they failed to honor God. They wanted their own glory, not God's glory.
A guide at Blarney Castle in Ireland was explaining to some visitors that his job was not always as pleasant as it seemed. He told them about a group of disgruntled tourists he had taken to the castle earlier in the week. “These people were complaining about everything,” he said. “They didn't like the weather, the food, their hotel accommodations, the prices, everything. Then, to top it off, when we arrived at the castle we found that the area around the Blarney Stone was roped off. Workmen were making some kind of repairs.”
“This is the last straw!” exclaimed one lady who seemed to be the chief faultfinder in the group. “I've come all this way, and now I can't even kiss the Blarney Stone.”
“Well, you know,” the guide said, “according to legend, if you kiss someone who has kissed the stone, it's the same as kissing the stone itself.”
“And I suppose you've kissed the stone,” said the exasperated lady.
“Better than that,” replied the guide. “I've sat on it.”