Out of convenience

I was listening to Malachi randomly, at a timely time, on the drive that I sort of wish I didn't go on.

God's people (the Israelites) in Malachi's time failed to give tithe and offerings as required. They saw it as a burden. They knew the requirements of the law but saw nothing wrong with offering blind and lame animals to God, though they had acceptable animals in their flocks. They gave, but out of their convenience. Those animals couldn't have profited them much anyway. Or in Jesus' time, those who were giving out of their wealth - perhaps they were happy to drop in a sum each week, as long as it didn't hurt their lifestyles.

Do we obey God out of convenience?

I have been (am) struggling with how love comes at a cost. Perhaps it costs time when you could use for study, or petrol on a week where fuel prices are high, or significant damage to your personal belongings. Perhaps the cost is less tangible, but very real nevertheless. Less hours of sleep, maybe even insomnia. Not being appreciated, or the sort of friendship where you are only contacted out of the other person's convenience. How about when the person you are helping, in the same breath that they express their gratitude, shock you with how self centred they are. Maybe with something that is not even socially acceptable, akin to refusing a small favour such as, can you please pass the water from across the table.

Sometimes I think, maybe I'm nice you know, I do love my neighbours - thinking about how I can encourage this person, spend time with that person, help with someone else's needs, buy something good to share with another person. I love a little, while it's convenient. Until it costs me something that hurts. Then it turns to hate or pondering whether it is worthwhile to serve God. If this person is like that, why should I ever do anything for them. I wish I never noticed. I should have stayed home, then this would have never happened. God this is not fair, why did this happen when I am trying to be good to others?!

“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?" - Malachi 3:13-14

I guess, when you read the whole story of Israel and how patiently God had loved and blessed the people with everything they had, it's ridiculous that the people would say that. But somehow, it sounds more reasonable coming from my own heart... but it's not.

So no, reality is that I'm selective, and give up easily, and don't love that selfless love much at all. A humbling reminder it is, of how none of us can be righteous before God by our own efforts, and how deeply we need to grasp God's love to continue loving. What a high calling Jesus gave and demonstrated, to love your enemies; and if your enemies, then surely your friends also!

(By the way, I always thought loving enemies was an oxymoronic statement, but perhaps what he was saying was, those who despise you as an enemy rather than those whom you despise as enemies.)



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