I've been reading and meditating on this passage from Malachi.
6 "A son honors his father, and slaves honor their master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you priests who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?' 7 "By offering defiled food on my altar. "But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' "By saying that the LORD's table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the LORD Almighty. 9 "Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?"--says the LORD Almighty. 10 "Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD Almighty, "and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "But you profane it by saying, 'The Lord's table is defiled,' and, 'Its food is contemptible.' 13 And you say, 'What a burden!' and you sniff at it contemptuously," says the LORD Almighty. "When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?" says the Lord. 14 "Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations.
- Malachi 1:6-14 TNIV
Malachi recognizes that all the people were guilty of dishonoring God. Their careless attitude towards the worship God had instituted revealed their lack of love, honor, and respect for the Lord. By begrudgingly offering defiled sacrifices they defile and disrespect the Lord. I thought it was interesting that in verses 11 and 14 that God says that his name will be great and feared among the nations. In verses 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14 all call God the "Lord Almighty" or the "Lord of hosts" in other translations. God is stressing his greatness and his omnipotence. In verse 14 Malachi sums up the reason for the Lord's anger at the dishonor he's been getting, and that reason is the majestic greatness of God. Israel needed to be reminded of just how awesome, great, and all together holy the Lord is. It seems to me the key for Israel to return to true worship is to get a fresh appreciation of this truth. This whole section really applies to how we worship God in the congregations we are in. We must be mindful of how we sing and pray. We need to put our hole heart and mind into our singing and prayer. We have to focus our minds on the text of the song we are singing. Spurgeon once said, "heartless hymns are insults to heaven". HOW TRUE! Just as the Lord "is not pleased" (verse 10) with heartless sacrifices in Malachi's day, so he "is not pleased" with heartless worship today. We need to catch the majesty and the supreme dignity of the One we are called to worship. When we are singing the hymns or songs at Church, what are our minds on? Are the words just coming out, while our minds are thinking about anything but God. What an insult that is to God. What about prayer? When someone is representing the congregation in prayer, are we listening to what is being prayed? We have good reason to sing and worship and pray, because we have the great Lord Jesus! He has sent the Holy Spirit to fill us and enable us to worship him in Spirit and truth. We get this awesome privilege and joy of having Christ, and we should not dare to take that lightly. Israel took to worship of God lightly, and provoked his anger. Are we gripped with the reality of Christ? What excites us about worship? In Israel, they were bored with worship. They did not find offering sacrifices to the Lord exciting. What excites us? Is it the band, or the worship leader and singers? Is it the musicians playing the hymns? None of those things should excite us! The only thing that should excite us is the Lord Jesus and his unmatched greatness! We have to mean what we sing and pray. It needs to come from our hearts. Our emotions should be in response to the words we are singing and praying. Mindless singing is worthless singing. When we sing we are speaking directly to God. There is so much in this passage that I can't do justice to in words that I think applies greatly to what our worship of the Lord. Remember, worship isn't just what happens on Sunday, it's a 24/7/365 thing.