Pastor’s sermon from yesterday about guarding our spiritual gates has continued to turn over in my mind today. It is perhaps for this reason that the following passage from Malachi 1 impacted me so much when I read it:
10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. ~Malachi 1:10
The context of this verse is that the people were offering less-than-perfect sacrifices on the altar–crippled, blind, and maimed animals that were not pleasing to God. They offered Him second-best (or perhaps it wasn’t even second-best) and feigned shock that He was not pleased with them.
What struck me, though, was the concept of lighting useless fires. The fire was supposed to purify and refine the people, releasing a fragrant aroma to the Lord. However, in Malachi the Lord expressed His desire to bar the people from His presence–the fire was there, but the sacrifice wasn’t right.
How often can this be said of our “pentecostal, charismatic, full-gospel” churches? How often do we have the “fire” of the manifestations, but don’t seek to get the sacrifice right? How often do we seek the glory and neglect communing with the Spirit?
Taking it on a more personal level–how often do I say all the right words, raise my hands at the right time, pray in the Spirit, sing at the top of my lungs….all with emotions raging in my heart that simmer beneath a church mask? Does my going-through-the-motions please Him; or does He care more about my motives and the perfection of my sacrifice?
God’s not fooled by my grandiose behavior. I don’t convince Him that I love my neighbor as myself just by saying all the right words. He’s weighing my heart, my motives, my intentions–every thought that flits through my mind. I don’t want the doors of His throne room barred to me–to weary Him by my blatant disregard for His desires.
If I am to burn, God, let my life be a pleasing sacrifice before You.