Respecting God; October 16, 2020

Malachi 1:14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”

At first glance this might not seem so relevant to people today, since we don’t practice animal sacrifice, but in over 40 years of ministry I have lost count of how many times people have said they would give something to God, through the church or whatever, and then failed to follow through. Social customs and frameworks change, but people really don’t. That’s why the oldest passages in the Bible still resonate with us today, since God certainly never changes. We are as prone to disrespect God as people in Malachi’s day. We think the world is egalitarian, but we are still very impressed when a famous person comes by. We are still impressed with titles, whether we admit it or not. With that in mind, it is really odd how people take God so lightly. Even supposedly religious people are guilty here. We ignore the Sabbath, practically speaking, and often don’t hesitate to use His name lightly. I’ve heard even reasonably devout people say “Oh my God” for the most trivial things. That is simply not right. When we are focused on the reality of who God is, we certainly never do such things. God says clearly that treating Him lightly, disrespecting Him, brings us under a curse, and that is a fearsome thing indeed.

I have never been one to use the Lord’s name lightly. Off hand, the only time I can remember saying, “Oh my God,” was when I was watching on live TV and saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11 in 2001. That was an honest prayer! That’s not to say I am innocent of disrespecting God, however. I grew up with God as an undeniable part of my life, but as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. I have done things that I knew were displeasing to God even while being assured that He knew it all. That’s hardly the Fear of the Lord! At the same time, as a pastor I am somewhat “in the line of fire” when it comes to other people’s attitudes toward God. At times I have been deeply saddened to see people who claimed Jesus as Savior who failed to make Him Lord over specific areas of their life. Sometimes that has been finances, sometimes sex, sometimes food, and any of a number of other things. Seeing them, I have no excuse whatsoever to be blind to my own failures! The longer I live, the more sharply aware I am of the depth and intensity of God’s grace. He loves me in spite of me! He calls me to perfection, to perfect holiness, but He doesn’t reject me because I’m not there yet. How can I not love and respect a God like that? However, my love and respect are still works in progress. That’s one of many reasons I look forward to standing before the Throne, clad in the righteousness of Christ alone with no pretensions whatsoever of my own.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me live this day and each day respecting and loving You as You alone deserve, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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