Will Graham Devotion: Complacent Christians

Bible Reading: Malachi 1:6-14, NKJV

After hundreds of years of disobedience to the Lord, God punished the Israelites with seven decades of captivity in the city of Babylon.

After this discipline, one would think the people of Israel had learned their lesson. The exiles had returned, the temple was rebuilt, and Jerusalem had reestablished some degree of normalcy.

However, it didn’t take long for complacency to set in, bringing with it spiritual pollution.

Unfortunately, this is somewhat similar to many Christians today. They believe, but live like God doesn’t exist. They go through the motions, undistinguishable from the world around them, compromising the truth for worldly pleasures.

In light of this, perhaps it’s worth examining the spiritual pollution of the Israelites—and, in particular, their priests—in their attitude toward God, found in Malachi 1:6-14.

Disrespectful (Verses 6-7)

First, we need to realize that spiritual pollution causes us to serve God in a disrespectful manner. God asks a question, “Where is My honor?” The priests were cutting deals, accepting blemished animals for selfish reasons. They disrespected the Lord because they allowed spiritual pollution to cloud their spiritual sight.

What about us? Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, we no longer offer blood sacrifices, but do we truly honor God with our lives, praise, time and treasure, or are we offering disrespectful cast-offs on our own terms? Don’t disrespect God by offering Him second choices and halfhearted service.

Unfit (Verses 8-9)

Next, we realize that spiritual pollution causes our services to be ineligible unto the Lord. God will not accept them. Deuteronomy 15:21 says, “But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.” This is exactly what the priests were doing. Not only did God reject their offering, but twice in verse 8 He referred to the offerings as “evil,” because the offerings were unfit.

When we allow spiritual pollution to remain in our lives, we offer God disqualified service, and He will not accept it. Sin keeps us from fully participating in God’s plans.

Apathetic (Verses 10-14)

Finally, when we allow spiritual pollution to remain in our lives, we develop disdainful attitudes. In verse 13, the priests referred to their calling as “weariness.” They would “sneer” at the work. They—the priests—were bored with serving the Lord. Their attitudes were so bad that God wished that they would shut the doors to the temple.

Again, this is similar to us, and it’s an easy trap as you slip into spiritual complacency. The Creator of the universe calls us to worship Him, and yet we struggle to attend church or spend time in Bible study and prayer. We claim to be God’s children, but our hearts are far from Him. We cling to the things of this world, while treating the holy as mundane.

Remember God’s admonishment to the church in Laodicea in Revelations 3:15-16: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

My friends, this is a very dangerous place to be. Spiritual complacency and pollution are a problem. What’s the answer?

  • First, take an inventory of your spiritual life. Similar to a medical diagnosis, you must first recognize the issue before you can move forward in fixing it.
  • We must confess our sin to the Lord and allow Him to purify us of that which taints our lives and souls.
  • With God’s help, you must develop a new fervor (passionate, deliberate and intentional) for service unto the Lord.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” This promise still holds true.

Repent, break free from complacency and bring honor to God.

Scripture Reference: Malachi 1:6-14

“A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the Lord of hosts
To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

“You offer defiled food on My altar,
But say,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying,
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’

And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.

“But now entreat God’s favor,
That He may be gracious to us.
While this is being done by your hands,
Will He accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.

10 “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors,
So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain?
I have no pleasure in you,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.

11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

12 “But you profane it,
In that you say,
‘The table of the Lord is defiled;
And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’

13 You also say,
‘Oh, what a weariness!’
And you sneer at it,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick;
Thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand?”
Says the Lord.

14 “But cursed be the deceiver
Who has in his flock a male,
And takes a vow,
But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished—
For I am a great King,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“And My name is to be feared among the nations.