26th March 2011

Useless Fires

Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar!
Malachi 1:10 (NIV UK)

“It’ll do” faith is practiced often in church circles.

“God understands. I don’t have to exert myself too much”. “I sin often but God is loving and so I don’t have to try too hard”. “I must learn to take it easy on myself”. Of course, God is love and he knows our frailties, but does that mean that half-hearted faith is okay?

In the book of Malachi the priests thought they did not have to take their devotion to God too seriously. When they offered a sacrifice any old or lame beast would do. They were preoccupied with their own priorities, and they had forgotten the idea of the unblemished animal offering, which pre-figured the sacrifice of the sinless Christ. Therefore God calls the fires on which the animals would be placed “useless”. It’s like making a show of religion without any depth of feeling behind it.

What is the application of this idea today? We know that the sacrificial system has been abolished and that it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Metaphorically, however, there is great meaning. We are to present ourselves as living sacrifices to Christ. Do we just present the parts of our life that have little meaning to us? Do we consistently take the easy option? Is our faith lackadaisical?

Living and sharing our faith involves our best. It involves all of our life, not just the parts we pick and choose.  As Isaac Watts wrote in his hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”.

“It’ll do” faith doesn’t cut it.

Father, I offer my all to you, not just the parts that seem easy to give.

Study by James Henderson 

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