“I wish that someone would go lock the temple door, so you’d stop making empty sacrifices on my altar. You’re turning me off,” God says. “I don’t want your grain.”
“In spite of you, I’ll do just fine everywhere you look. Everyone else, even the heathen, will offer better offerings than you. They recognize greatness when they see it,” God says.
“But when you say, ‘God’s table is unworthy, and God’s food is rotten,’ you insult me. You say, ‘Boring!’ and make a stink about having to worship,” God says.
“You offer me your leftovers, your cast-offs, stuff you’ve stolen and isn’t even yours. You bring this and expect me to be happy about it?” God says.
“Damn you, you cheater! You’ve got a perfectly good lamb to give, but you give an emaciated one. I’m a great king!” God says. “Even the heathen know better!”
Who do you think you’re fooling?
Something is worth it, or it’s not. Either you’re committed to the God project, or you’re not. It does no good to pretend, either way. God’s not fooled. And you yourself know whether you’re really committed or not. It’s only a matter of time before it’s obvious to everyone.
Religion, especially, is a very thin veneer. People have extremely sensitive hypocrisy meters. Say one thing on Sunday and do another on Monday and your real value to the movement is toast.
Malachi’s word to the religious folks of his day – and ours – is that it’s time to fish or cut bait. Offer the best you have, or don’t bother.
[Bonus: Malachi’s word applies to much more than religion. Is your company’s motto a logo with nothing behind it? Is your big talk about “family” belied by a marriage falling apart? Do your friendships go more than skin deep? You’re the only one who can really say, of course, but don’t think the rest of us can’t see through you. On the flip-side of the coin, though, when your life rings true, we’ll all know that, too.]