Are you giving God your all?

God’s statement through Malachi to the returned exiles is strong. He has no pleasure in them nor their offerings.

The returned exiles don’t recognize who God is — the Lord of hosts, the all sovereign God of the entire universe (Mal 1:11). Nor do they recognize the privilege position in which they sit under the love of God as His chosen covenant people — God chose Jacob over Esau because He loved Jacob and hated Esau (Mal 1:2-3). Not recognizing the magnitude and magnificence of God, they take Him for granted. They believe they can worship God any way they like and God should accept their half-hearted worship and even provide them blessings.

But should God be content with us worshipping Him in the ways in which we prescribe? Or should we seek to worship God according to His divine commands?

Consider how David would answer this question from the daily Psalm that accompanies the reading in Malachi.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

– Psalm 63:1

Does your soul thirst for God? Does your flesh faint for him? Do you desire God in such a way that you are driven to worship Him with your entire life? Seeking Him with all you have, recognizing He is the sustainer of your life?

The Israelites didn’t seek the Lord with all their soul. They simple went through the motions. Bringing sacrifices because they were required. Taking God for granted, they didn’t bring the best and the first. They offered the blind, the lame, the sick (Mal 1:8). They brought sacrifices to God that they would not bring to their secular rulers, expecting God to accept their offerings and bless them accordingly (Mal. 1:8b-9).

God doesn’t want our left overs! He doesn’t want our half-hearted worship. He wants all of us. He wants us to thirst for and hunger for Him as David did.

Do you thirst for the Lord? Are you giving your all to the Lord? Or are you giving Him what’s leftover of your time, energy, and resources? Are you seeking Him for Him, or are you seeking Him for what you believe He can provide you?

“So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Psalm 63:2-8

The praiseworthy steadfast love of the Lord

Running from Absalom, David finds himself in the wilderness thirsty and in fear for his life. Even though David knows God has the ability to immediately change the situation, he turns to the Lord, seeking Him in earnest. His soul thirsts for him as he thirsts for water.

Why does David thirst for the Lord is such difficult times, especially knowing God’s sovereign hand can change his situation in a moments notice?

Later in the Psalm, David reflects on the Lord’s steadfast love. He says,

“because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”

Psalm 63:3

God’s steadfast love “refers to [his] special commitment to the people with whom he has gladly bound himself in an unbreakable covenant bond” (Ortland, Gently and Lowly, 149). It is God’s steadfast love that causes David to seek the Lord and trust that He will rescue him from his situation. He knows the Lord will not forsake or withdraw His love from him no matter the situation he faces or the sins he commits against the Lord.

Prior to this episode with Absalom (2 Samuel 16), David sins against Bathsheba and ultimately the Lord (see Psalm 51). But God doesn’t reject him. He doesn’t cast him out. He doesn’t annul his covenant with David due his sin and rebellion against Him. Instead, He sends Nathan the prophet to call David back to Himself (2 Samuel 12).

God’s steadfast love draws David in, it captivates him. Reflecting on God’s steadfast love causes David to thirsts for the Lord, his “soul clings to [Him]” (vs 8a). He is satisfied by the Lord alone (vs 5).

In the same way that David is drawn to the Lord, we should be drawn to the Lord. His steadfast love should captivate us and draw us in too.

Despite our consistent rebellion, God remains faithful. He doesn’t cast us off, instead He seeks us out. He sends people into our life to call us back to Himself when we sin. He provides encouraging voices so that we keep pressing on. He reminds us, through the work of the Spirit, of His steadfast love. A love that is greater than riches, status, comfort, power, and even life itself (vs 3).

God is there both when we are running from Him and towards Him. His steadfast love never ceases.

What an amazing God we serve! A God worthy of worship and praise for His steadfast love endures forever!

Why Shouldn’t We Love the World?

As a parent, one of the things you so badly want is for your kids to say their first word, then their first phrase, then their first sentence. Not only are those developmental milestones, but in one sense it makes life easier. If they are hungry, cold, sick, or tired, they can actually tell you instead of crying until you happen to figure out which one it is by trial error.

But in another sense, it can make life more difficult. I know I’m constantly getting onto my oldest son for picking on his brother. In fact, I had to stop writing this paragraph in order to talk with him about something he said to his younger brother.

Playing referee is not the only thing that makes life more difficult. As your kids’ progress in their understanding and speech, you get the inevitable “why” question. I’m not saying that asking why is always disrespectful or even a bad thing, it’s what helps us learn and grow in our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. While that’s true, it does make our lives more difficult because it means we have to give an answer for almost everything that happens. A lot of time, I just don’t have the answer, or at least I don’t have the answer to the fifth “why” in a row. It either doesn’t exist, or my knowledge of the subject has been exhausted.

Even though I don’t always have the answer, I try to provide what I can because knowing why is often the difference between doing or not doing something. At least that’s the case in my life. Take algebra for instance. I think not knowing why I needed algebra as an adult was one of the reasons I didn’t apply myself to the subject in high school.

Knowing why is a motivating factor in our lives. I know this, you know this, God knows this, and the writers of Scripture know this, which is why the Bible often tells us why we should or shouldn’t do something. That’s exactly what John is doing for us in today’s passage. He tells us why we shouldn’t love the world.

Why shouldn’t we love the world?

In verse 15 of 1 John chapter 2 we read,

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 Jn 2:15)

The first part of the verse represents the command. We are to take this command seriously because God, our Creator, Sustainer, and Lord is telling us not to do something through His inspired and inerrant Word.

Not only are we given a command, but we are also given a reason why we shouldn’t love the world.

I know you have probably seen those license plates or stickers that say: House Divided. Underneath that tag line you typically see the mascots of two rival football teams. In the South, where I grew up, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators were big rivals. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see people driving around with one of those license plates on their car.

While that tag definitely represented a division, it wasn’t so strong of a division, at least in some families, that they couldn’t marry one another, live in the same house, or raise kids together. Sure, their hearts might be divided when it comes to football. And that division might even lead them to give each other a hard time when those two teams play each other. But that doesn’t mean they can’t love and care for one another.

That, however, is not the case when it comes to our love for God and the world. We can’t slap a tag on our car in fun that says Love Divided — God and World. Either God holds our heart in His hands or the world does. If we love the world, the love of the Father can’t be in us. So we shouldn’t love the world because it means we have divided hearts. As followers of Jesus, our hearts shouldn’t be divided. Instead, they should be fully given to Jesus and the things of God over the things of the world.

Question for Reflection

  1. Is your heart divided?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon Why shouldn’t we love the world?