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Pastoral 2017

Unfaithful Servants

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Introduction

No one should ever barge into any area to serve God. God is the One who calls Christians and puts them in particular areas to serve Him. He endows every member of the church with spiritual gifts, “dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11), so as to serve Him. Since God is the One who has given to each Christian a particular area to serve Him, Christians must therefore remain faithful in service till the end. Christians must be unwavering and steadfast to the work that God has given. God requires every Christian to have a constant and loyal commitment to the tasks appointed by Him.

The quality of being faithful in service unto God has always been important, all the more so today, as it is very common to see people giving up serving God. Full-time workers of churches who have been serving God for many years quit. Bible-college students give up studying before their graduation. Christians who are on duty rosters grow tired in their service and find excuses to give up. These people may once be full of enthusiasm and excitement when they first started to serve. However, they lose their zeal and passion over time and finally, they leave the stations that God has given to them.

On the other hand, although many Christians may remain in service unto God, they start to cut corners and give less quality work. Being faithful does not also just mean remaining in service, it includes maintaining a high quality of the service too. Christians who are faithful to God in their service will not do a slipshod job but will complete their work to the best of their abilities. If one remains in service but produces careless and lowquality work, it will not please God at all.

The book of Malachi was written especially to priests who were serving God. God was very displeased with the priests during the time of Malachi. This is because the priests dishonoured God in their service by not offering to God the best. The priests offered to God “polluted bread” (Malachi 1:7), which was food unfit to be offered to God. It was either not made of good flour or not made the way God designated it to be (Leviticus 24:5-7). The priests also sacrificed animals that were blind, lame and sick (Malachi 1:8a). God expressly commanded in the Mosaic Law that animals with any imperfections must not be sacrificed (Deuteronomy 15:21). They offered unto God what they would not even offer to their governor (Malachi 1:8b). By their actions, they poured contempt upon God. In response to their unfaithful service, the Lord sent Malachi to confront them. God wanted them to know what was unacceptable by highlighting the characteristics of the unfaithful servants (Malachi 3:13-15). As we look at this passage, let us examine ourselves to see if such characteristics are found in us.

Characteristics of Unfaithful Servants

Being bold to go against God

Unfaithfulness begins when Christians lose the fear of God in their hearts. Christians start to be unfaithful by daring to go against God. Like the priests during Malachi’s time, unfaithful Christians are bold enough to use words that are “stout” against Him (Malachi 3:13). They are not afraid that God hears the strong words that are uttered against Him even though they know that God is omniscient. God may not react to the complaints directed at Him at first, but it is all due to His mercy. Instead of repenting, some may even grow bolder in their words against Him.

Furthermore, the priests during Malachi’s time who were bold to go against God did not fear to take a further step by denying what they had done. When confronted, they said, “What have we spoken so much against thee?” (Malachi 3:13). Instead of confessing their faults, they justified themselves.

One sure way of checking if we have been unfaithful to God in our service is to reflect on the words that we say about our service. Have we been expressing thankfulness to God for counting us worthy to serve Him in the area that He has placed us in, or have we been complaining about our God-given duties? If we had expressed unhappiness regarding our service, it is very likely that we have not given God the best in our service, or we may have already abandoned it. If we have not left our area of service, it is just a matter of time. Also, when godly men confront us about our lack in our service unto God, do we put up a defence even though we have been blatantly wrong?

Being covetous of earthly rewards

Besides having the boldness to go against God, unfaithful Christians look for earthly reward or selfgain for their service. The priests said in Malachi 3:14, “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?” The priests saw no returns for serving God even though they mournfully served the Lord in tears. Instead of being enriched, they became impoverished or disadvantaged. They measured the returns for their service in terms of material gain.

Furthermore, the covetous priests also envied others who were more prosperous even though they did not serve God. They regarded the proud people who did not submit to God as blessed, and the wicked people as well-established. They cried foul over the undeserved deliverance of those who went against God (Malachi 3:15). To the priests, their service to God had not paid off at all.

For unfaithful Christians, the motivation behind service is self-gain. They may be looking for recognition and praises from others, or perhaps some form of monetary rewards. There is some selfish ulterior motive behind serving God. If such rewards are not received, their service unto God will wane or stop.

Christians must not demand such earthly gain from God when they serve Him. For God is faithful and He would accordingly reward in the manner that He deems best. Hebrews 6:10a promises Christians who serve Him, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name”. And even if you give a cup of cold water in His name, you will not lose your reward (cf. Mark 9:41).

Conclusion

Therefore, let us serve God faithfully by having the fear of the Lord in our hearts when we carry out our duties. May God be gracious unto us so that we can “serve (Him) acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). For we serve an awesome and great God who is “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Even when no one may notice or praise us when we serve God, He will remember our labour that we render unto Him. Colossians 3:23-24 read, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” ■

 

 

Pastoral Exhortation