It’s the last Sunday of the Church Year in the Series C set of readings with the following three passages: Malachi 3:13-18; Colossians 1:13-20 and Luke 23:27-43. The text chosen for the last sermon of the Church Year is Malachi 3:14, “You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the LORD of hosts?’”
At first reading today’s Christian probably imagines that the people of Malachi’s day should have been destroyed by the LORD for saying and thinking such terrible things such as it is useless to serve God. The task of today’s preacher therefore is obvious. From a L&G perspective, the sermon is not to denounce the people of Malachi’s day but to accuse today’s Christian of saying or thinking the same thing! How so? Behind the thinking of the Israelites is the idea that God appears at times not to be fair because the wicked seem to get all the breaks while the believers seem to get the short end of the stick.
The preacher needs to give examples of how often today’s believer behaves just like those in Malachi’s day. For example, how many times is it not heard from a believer something along the following: “What did I do to….deserve this?” Such an attitude reveals one who lives under the Law imagining that one can discern God’s attiude toward us by examining how our life is going. If it goes badly, God is angry with us; if it goes well, God is pleased with us.
Christians, like unbelievers, are inconsistent with their thoughts about God at times blaming Him when things are not going well. In fact, an atheist can be defined as someone who realizes that if the true God exists, He must be all-powerful and because it appears obvious that He is not using such power to stop evil, one can only conclude that God does not exist. Our old Adam is always living under the Law imagining that our works are better than God declares them to be and that our sins are not near as bad as God declares them to be.
Verse 18 of Malachi 3 hits the nail on the head when God clarifies who truly are the righteous. They are those who serve the Lord in contrast to the wicked who do not serve the Lord. And such serving means that we bow at the decisions of God trusting his promises that He will take care of us better than the birds in the air and the flowers of the field notwithstanding all the evidence apparently against such a reality. We thank God that He is not a god of justice giving us what we deserve but instead He is the God of mercy not giving us what we deserve and the God of grace giving us what we do not deserve; namely, eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior.