The other night I was reading in Malachi 1, and I was struck by several of its verses:
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.
And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
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.
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.
“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.”
(Malachi 1:6, 8, 13-14)
What struck me was that Israel was trying to get away with the bare minimum. Yes, they gave sacrifices. But they did not sacrifice of their best. In fact, if you really think about, sacrificing a blemished animal wasn’t much of a sacrifice anyway – it wasn’t good for much to begin with.
But then I was thinking, “Well, what is God’s bare minimum?”
And if you really think about it, He doesn’t have one. His bare minimum is far greater than your ultimate best. He says, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 4:16). He says, “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5).
But of course, we all fail. Each and every day, we fail.
So God came up with a new bare minimum. Well, maybe it isn’t exactly a new bare minimum. Maybe it’s just the old one, but a little more accessible.
He says to us, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). He says that “…you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked words, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard…” (Col. 1:22-23). As long as we remain in the faith, then “…you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
As we go through life, let us strive to do more than just the “bare minimum” for God. Let us give Him our best, and surrender our all to Him. But let us do so in the assurance that, though we may sometimes fail to meet His bare minimum, God looks upon us as righteous. In His book, we have already met His requirement of perfection, because we are clothed in the righteousness of His perfect Son, Christ Jesus.