A son honors his father, and servants their master. If then I am a father, where is the honor due me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due me? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, “How have we despised your name?” 7 By offering polluted food on my altar. And you say, “How have we polluted it?” By thinking that the LORD’s table may be despised. Malachi 1:6-14 (NRSV)
Malachi starts with a pleasant conversation with God letting Israel know that they are chosen, but it escalates very quickly to a time of correction. God asks Israel a rhetorical question that they already know the answer to. He wants to know if it is common for a person to honor someone who is their father? He wants to know if honor is due to Him as Father simply because He is the Father? The obvious answer to that question is a resounding “YES!” Well if that is true, then why has Israel refused to offer God the honor that is due Him, and how have they failed? In short, they have offered polluted food on the altar of God and so have we. What does offering polluted food look like exactly? It is when we approach the altar of worship with indifference. It’s when we come to Him when we’ve decided that we have no better place to be in this moment. It’s when we decide how much of our worship He will get on a given day, by our preference of song, or whether we are in the mood to give it. When we bring nominal worship to God, we defile the very experience of worship. God has not called us to indifference. Jesus didn’t shed His own blood on the cross for us to only come with part of our devotion. If Malachi teaches us nothing else, the one thing it is clearly saying is that God has a high expectation of “how” we worship. He cares about the heart we attach to the pursuit of His presence. Anything short of bringing our very best sacrifice of praise breaks the heart of God.