Ever think: “Why should I keep serving God?” Some in the church have faltered and failed because they faced discouragement in their service to God. In the age of instant gratification we can find ourselves discouraged when we do not see instant results in our service to God. It can be worse when it appears that our service has brought about difficulty instead of blessing!
Our plight, and that of ancient Israel, is not much different. They too became discouraged, and that only a little over 100 years after their return from captivity. When Malachi wrote, they experienced priests who were indifferent (Mal. 1:6-2:9), people who were skeptical of God’s willingness to bless them (Mal. 2:17; 3:14), and the plague of intermarriage with the heathen which threatened their future (Mal. 2:11-16; cf. Ezra 10). The enthusiasm they experienced upon their initial return to the land had fizzled out, and the people were discouraged because their expectation of a “golden age” had not been met.
God warned the people that their words had wearied Him (Mal. 2:17). They had made many accusations against God, but among the greatest was this: “It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:14)? Their objection was based on the wrong assumption that the wicked continued to prosper as the righteous suffered. This was the same problem David struggled with in his life. He wrote: “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked...Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.” (Psa.73:1-3, 13). David struggled until he “went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end” (Psa. 73:17). God called Israel back to this same sacred truth as recorded in Malachi 3:16-18: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”
When we ask the question, “Does it profit us to serve God?” let us return to the sacred text and remember the answers God gave Israel and realize the answer is a resounding, “YES!” But, how does it profit us? How did it profit Israel? First, take note of the differing fate of those who serve the Lord and those who do not! God contrasted the fate of Edom and Israel (Mal. 1:1-5). Though Israel had been in captivity, and even though material prosperity had not come after the exile, she did survive the experience which evidenced God’s love for her. Suffering is a part of the human experience, and especially for the Christian (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Tim. 3:12). Our fate will be an eternal inheritance with God, in a new body that will never suffer again (1 Pet. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:23-24; 50-58; 1 The. 4:13-18; 2 Tim. 1:8-12).
Second, God called them sons and daughters (Mal. 1:6). Coupled with the promise of a new body, John reminds us “what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 Jn. 3:1). 1 John 3:2 states: “Beloved, now we are children of God.” This is not a promise in the future, but a present reality! It is the foundation of the promise on which our hope rests (1 Jn. 3:1-3; Rom. 8:17).
Third, they had the promise of the coming Christ (Mal. 3:1-6). For them He was the Bringer of a New Covenant and a promised cleansing. For us, we await the promise of His return, “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God...according to his promise, looking for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:12-13). Does it profit to serve God? Absolutely! Both in this life and the one to come (Jn. 10:10)!
Dale preaches for the Lord’s church in Harbor Springs and Rogers City, Michigan
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