Day: 28 | Plan: Return to Refuge
Today's Reading: Malachi 2
Malachi 2:8 (ESV) "But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts."
As a quality engineer, my husband ensures that doctors receive the highest quality medical devices for their patients' surgeries. Although his job is critical, he's often met with opposition when he rejects sub-standard products. It's tough to uphold regulations and correct others, but he doesn't waver because he wants patients to have healthy recoveries.
As we turn our Bibles to Malachi 2, we see God rebuke Israel's priests for lowering His holy standards in their lifestyles, worship and teaching. (Malachi 2:8-9) These priests were charged with ensuring that the Israelites gave God their best worship so that Israel would receive life and peace.
However, the priests fail to take this responsibility to heart (Malachi 2:2), and instead of creating a culture of giving God their best, they:
- Disregard God's law and lower God's standards.
- Live lives contrary to what the law taught.
- Cause others to stumble with their watered-down teaching.
- And break the covenant God made with the Levites. (Malachi 2:8)
The priests make the poorest sacrifices to God and permit the Israelites to do the same. (Malachi 1:8) These ministers turn a blind eye when men abandon their Israelite wives to marry foreign women and adapt the women's idol worship. (Malachi 2:11) The priests' idolatry lead them to cut corners spiritually, so God responds by cursing them and warning that more wrath will come if they refuse to repent. (Malachi 2:1-4)
But what about us? Do we hold ourselves and each other to God's standards?
As New Testament believers, we are "a royal priesthood" under our High Priest, Christ. (1 Peter 2:9, Hebrews 4:14) We may not judge whether a man's lamb is worthy to be sacrificed, but we are charged to present ourselves and each other as holy unto God — just like the priests in this passage. (Colossians 1:28, Galatians 6:1-2)
Do we offer God our best worship with joyful obedience and devotion? Or do we simply go through the motions?
Do we guard our hearts from entertainment, relationships and situations that could compromise our love for God, or do we shrug these off like they're "no big deal"?
Are we pointing others to God's holy expectations through our lifestyle and when we see fellow Christians veering from God's path? Or do we keep silent?
As a royal priesthood, our reverence for God should overflow into our words and actions because we are His ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) When we honor God, we position ourselves to turn others away from sin in a spirit of love — without hypocrisy. However, when we minimize God's holiness by abandoning His law, we turn away from God, embrace idols and cause others to stumble spiritually.
Can you imagine what would happen to patients if my husband lowered his standards for medical devices? How much more damaging is lowering God's standards to our spiritual health? Whether in our homes, schools or jobs, as God's priests let's give Him our best worship by graciously holding ourselves and each other to His holy standards.
Prayer: God, Your commandments are not burdensome. They give us life by guarding our hearts from sin's enticing snares and keeping us close to You. Father, please open my eyes to areas in my life where I have lowered Your holy standards. Help me give You my best worship. May my lifestyle and ministry to others please You, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Perhaps you're wondering if holding ourselves to God's standards contradicts what God says about... Read More
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