Contract or Covenant

“You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”” (Malachi 2:17 ESV)

The people have wearied the Lord by accusing Him of being unjust and uninvolved.  It is funny that the eternal God of the universe would describe Himself as being “wearied,” for our God never sleeps (Psalm 121:3).  The people were back in the land and had rebuilt the temple, but they were still under foreign rule, were insignificant on the global stage and prosperity was nowhere to be found.  They looked around at other, pagan, nations and saw their prosperity and they were bitter.  They reckoned that God was not upholding His end of the bargain – the part where He promised to bless them (Deuteronomy 27-28).

The entire book of Malachi is addressing the people’s low view of God.  A low view of God and an elevated view of ourselves always produces bitterness.  This is because God is there to serve us & meet our needs because we have done our part.  This is contractual language, not covenantal language.  We have paid our rent, done our part, followed the rules and now God is letting down His end of the bargain.  That is exactly where the people are – they are going through the religious motions and “doing their part” and God was not blessing them.  They were so blind and calloused that they could not even understand God’s dissatisfaction with them.  The weren’t loving God with their heart, mind & strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) – they were loving themselves.  They didn’t want God, they only wanted what God could give them. 

If you find yourself struggling with bitterness, is it because you believe that God owes you something that He has not delivered because you have prayed & obeyed?  In the gospel, we get God – that’s it; we get reconciled with the God of the universe and we become family.  Disappointment and difficulty are part of life, but we need to beg God to get us to a place where we no longer believe that He owes us anything.  He does not and yet He gracious provides all that we need.  Lord, help us to see you as you really are!


Entrust your soul to a faithful Creator

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19 ESV)

When the Christian suffers (not for his own ignorance), he should entrust himself to the sovereign Ruler of the universe who allows nothing to happen that has not first been filtered through His fingers.  The sovereignty of God provides absolute reassurance to the suffering servant.  God will vindicate those who are His.  Your identity is in Christ and your inheritance is in heaven.

Good things aren’t transformational things

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7–11 ESV)

Peter again instructs his readers to get their heads above the clouds to see ultimate reality.  This world is coming to an end.  It is not all that there is.  Our inheritance is far greater than anything that this world has to offer.  In light of that we should be self-controlled & sober minded in the way that we live.  As an interesting caveat, Peter says that their sober-mindedness & self control was for the sake of their prayers.  We are not just called to passively obey, we are called to actively participate in the kingdom of God.  They, as do we, have a role to play in the kingdom.  The fact that the sovereign Creator of the universe invites us to play a part in His grand redemptive plan is unbelievable.  Why would God invite us to play a part for He certainly does not need us to accomplish His purposes?  He gets the glory, we get the joy and others get the good that we do.

The pinnacle of all Christian virtues is love.  Why?  Because love covers a multitude of sins (4:8 & Proverbs 10:12).  How is this developed?  He that is forgiven much, loves much (Luke 7:47) and we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).  The source of our love is the regeneration of our hearts.  As we grow deeper in the love and forgiveness of God, we are able to extend this to others.  It becomes a more “natural” outflow of what God is doing in us.  A primary way that this was displayed in the dangerous and hostile first century culture that Peter’s readers were living in was through hospitality to others.  Their love compelled them to help others.  This hospitality should not be obligatory – it should be without grumbling.

The gifts that we have received from God should be used to serve others.  We are to be stewards of God’s grace.  If you have a speaking gift, then use it with sobriety – not propagating your own ideas and theology, but God’s.  If you have a serving gift, rely upon God’s strength instead of your own.  It is easy to rely on our own strength when serving.  Gifts, whether spiritual or our own natural strengths, are due to the grace of God and should be use for the betterment of others.  Our natural proclivity is to use them for our own glory & good.  They are meant for the glory of God & good of others.

Are you loving and serving others well?  We all fall short in these areas and our normal mode of operation is to resolve to try harder and do better.  We ask for accountability and lay out a plan of action.  These are not bad things, but these are not transformational things.  We should love and serve others – even when we don’t feel like it.  But external compliance to the commands of God neither glorify God nor produce joy in the disciple.  If you are lacking in these areas, go back to the foot of the cross.  Go back and behold the Creator of the world.  Ask God to reveal Himself to you – His majesty, holiness, goodness & sovereignty.  For as we behold the glory of the Lord, we are transformed into His likeness.  Start at the foot of the cross and seek not love, but rather seek God Himself.