True worship always costs something. During the time of the prophet Malachi, the people worshipped God by offering sacrifices to Him at His Holy Temple. Sacrificing was a show of literally giving to God what was precious to them. Bulls, goats, lambs, fowl, and grain was offered to the LORD. Animal sacrifices made to God were supposed to be spotless, perfect, and healthy – the very best of what was available to the people. This is because the very best was what God deserved. But over time, the people began to keep for themselves what was best and offer God the leftovers. Sick, lame, deformed animals that no one wanted were sacrificed on the altar. Because priests received a portion of the offering as food, even they would complain about what was being offered to God (since it negatively affected them). These substandard offerings negated the point of worship and sacrifice altogether. The point of sacrificing animals became lost to the people’s selfishness and greed.
To Israel, God replied by saying, “Where is My honor?” and “Where is your fear of Me?” In other words, the poor sacrifices showed that the people did not respect or revere God. How might we be like this too sometimes? While we do not offer animal sacrifices to God in the way that the Israelites once did, we can still reflect on how we are attributing honor and due worship to God. Recall something precious to you that you’ve given to God. Be specific. Was it easy or difficult to do? What prompted you to give up something that you valued?
Whether or not you have already given up something to God or for God, you have the ability now. What is something significant to you that you can give up for God?