Lectionary reading for 12/3/2021: Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:13-18; Philippians 1:18b-26
Selected passage for reflection: Malachi 3:13-18
Malachi 3:13-18, NIV
13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”
16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
It’s officially December! Whenever December hits, I have to make a conscious effort to keep preparing my heart, mind and spirit to remain in the Advent season and not go into full-fledged Christmas mode. My holiday to-do list grows bigger and bigger, and I find myself chasing all the store deals to find gifts for my loved ones that I hope they will treasure.
In Malachi’s day, there were people who were fed up with giving gifts of service to God. They had abandoned serving God because they felt the payoff was not worth it. They wouldn’t even own up to their harsh statements and God had to quote back to them.
Serving God is not for the faint of heart. I currently serve as a hospital chaplain and there are days when I, too, cry out to God. I have had patients who cry out, thinking they’ve been good people so why has all this suffering happened to them. I have had patients who have abandoned church and religion altogether because it was too tough and hurtful. I imagine the Israelite people were feeling similarly. They had reached their bitter rockbottom. They did not feel a return on their investment, so serving God became a buried treasure thrown away.
Are you weary of serving God? Don’t give up. This passage boldly speaks that the priceless gift for those who fear the Lord is that we are His treasured possession: “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.” Amidst the patients in the trenches of the hospital, I have also met deeply faithful people with tough diagnoses who are still seeking to serve God and praise Him with their lives and circumstances.
We are reminded in this passage that there is a difference between going through a tough season of not feeling motivated to serve God and abandoning Him altogether. I am personally encouraged by Galatians 6:9 (NIV) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” All it takes is one foot in front of the other to continue to be faithful in the call God has on your life. If you’re resistant or lost in discovering what your call is, having an open heart and asking God to lead you can be your first step. Your presence and service matters. It makes a difference in the Kingdom of God and the harvest awaiting us!
As we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior, what spoiled treasure can you surrender? What buried treasure can you uncover in your Spirit to serve Him?
Father, we praise you that we are your treasured possessions. We thank you that you have compassion on us and sent your son on Earth to be our Savior out of your incredible love for us. We ask forgiveness for complacency, lack of motivation, exhaustion and all the things weighing us down from serving you. Where the Spirit of you is, there is freedom. Let it be so within every fiber of our beings. Strengthen and enlighten us to how you have called us to serve. Reveal yourself and your vision to us in a mighty and unique way. We love you.
In your Son, Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.
About the Author
Vanessa Fletcher seeks to radiate the light and love of Christ as a hospital chaplain in Georgia. She is married to her adventure partner, Hayden and has a spunky German Shepherd/Husky named Callie. She loves to spend time in nature and enjoys a good cup of espresso. Follow along her chaplain journey at @chaplainess on Instagram!