“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”
— Malachi 1:6 – 14
Have you ever been guilty of doing the bare minimum? In fact, and this is embarrassing, but I was famous for just that in college.
As a student at Baylor University, I remember an Ethics class where the professor handed out a syllabus and allowed us to contract for our own grade. To make a C, you had to pass all the test at 70% proficiency. To make a B, you had to pass all the test at 80% proficiency and read an extra 400 pages. To make an A, you had to pass all the text at 90% proficiency, read an extra 400 pages, and write two five-to-seven-page papers. It took about 20 seconds to make that decision for me: ”I will take the C thank you!” I lived by the motto that “a C is just as good as an A.” As long as it was passing, it moved you just as much closer to a diploma as an A did. In fact, it appeared to me that the true test was who would be stupid enough to not take the C.
In the book of Malachi, the prophet addresses this very idea as it relates to worship. The people of the day were trying to get by on the very bare minimum as it related to worship. They were bringing the animals that would bring the least amount at the market, the least valuable they had to the sacrifice. They were doing the least amount possible and calling it “good enough”. God speaks into this scene through the prophet Malachi and says, “Not so fast.” He tells them if that is their approach, they shouldn’t even waste their fire.
Thank God that we are no longer under a sacrificial system. When Jesus came, he became the ultimate sacrifice, and we are no longer expected to round up our best goats to sacrifice at church on Sunday morning. (In fact, we will turn you away if you come expecting to do such a thing.) However, the New Testament does make it clear that we are still expected to take our worship seriously. We are to take gathering with other believers to sing songs of praise and adoration seriously. We are to take the proclaiming of God’s word and applying it to our lives seriously. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us we are to see everything we do as worship.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
— 1 Corinthians 10:31
Fortunately, God allowed me to see along the way that I am to bring my best to everything I do as an act of worship to him. While I cant go back and change my college grades or raise my GPA, I can live today out of a sense of reverence for God, being sure to bring my best as an act of worship to him.
So, as you walk through today, ask yourself if you are giving your best. Are you doing your best work at your job? Are you giving your best to your spouse? Are your kids getting your best engagement? What do you need to change today to bring your very best to God as an act of worship?