You know that feeling when you take a bite of something and you just don’t chew it well enough…maybe you’re in a hurry or maybe you just aren’t aware…and then, the awful experience of it getting stuck in your throat? You aren’t really choking, but you’re extremely uncomfortable and even in some pain. Even downing a glass of water doesn’t seem to bring instant relief. That’s the feeling I get when I’m reading Malachi. It’s not a comfortable experience. Even though it’s a message to a specific group of people, God’s people who were brought out of exile, it’s a message that still stings. In this particular part of Malachi, God is speaking directly to the priests about their hypocritical ways. Instead of being faithful followers and leading their people in true worship of the God who redeemed them, they give in to more disobedience. They say they know God, but their actions don’t line up. They have led the people astray, breaking their covenant with God. They don’t feel blessed, they wonder where the God of justice is, and they are tired of struggling. They literally wore God out with their complaints…“You have wearied the Lord with your words” (Malachi 2:17a). The Lord used Malachi to pass on a strong warning, to get the attention of those whose words didn’t match their actions.
This book is a great reminder of the seriousness of our sin nature. The patterns we find ourselves in of sinning, seeking forgiveness, and sinning again. Yes, as long as we are living in this broken world we will struggle with sin, but we have been included, through Christ’s sacrifice, in God’s big plan for redemption. He doesn’t seek followers in word only. He calls us to faithfulness as we serve Him in word and deed. Malachi was used to convict the hearts of God’s leaders in this passage and to remind them of the covenant they’d broken. As followers of Christ, the Holy Spirt serves to convict our own hearts. It may be painful and uncomfortable to have our hearts convicted, but let us not turn from that conviction with a hard heart but rather, let’s lean in and repent. Knowing that our God is greater than our sin. That even when His message stings, it’s a message of love. Let’s lead those around us to rehearse the gospel and truly worship our Redeemer.