The Old Testament prophet Malachi shows us that we can carry out religious rituals without having our hearts renewed in love for God. When Malachi rebukes the people of God for this sin, he points to the way of spiritual renewal.
This Sunday at Grace, we will begin a series of messages from Malachi. His message is not only for the people of God in the Old Testament, it is also for us today. Christ our Savior has come, and we believe in him. We are the people of God through the saving work of Christ on the cross. Our hearts have been made new by the Spirit who lives within us. But, have we grown cool in our love for Christ? Has that coolness led to a less than whole-hearted devotion to him? Do we today, as the people of yesterday, need spiritual renewal?
If so, Malachi will help us. He will rebuke us, but his rebukes will lead to renewal.
In Malachi the beginning of renewal is the understanding of God’s love, and the kind of love it is. “I have loved you,” says the LORD. The people of God then questioned him. “How have you loved us?” The Lord responded by reminding them that he chose them (Malachi 1:2). He set his love on them. He called them to belong to him and to live for his purposes and glory.
Why does spiritual renewal begin here, with God’s gracious love? Because the love of God renews our hearts by assuring us and awakening us. The love of God assures us that we belong to him and that he will keep his promises. No one ever loved God who did not know that God loved them. God’s love has the assuring power that we need to walk by faith and in obedience to him.
God’s love also awakens us to our responsibilities as his people. The relationship Christians have with God is a covenant. In this covenant, God initiates the relationship, sets his love on us, and calls us to a way of living that reflects his love. We are given commands, callings, and ways of living by faith that show God’s grace and glory. When our hearts grow cold toward God’s love, we become slack in our obedience. We neglect the responsibilities of the covenant. But when we see the love of God for us with the eyes of the heart, we are awakened again and renewed in our love to be faithful to him.
The road to renewal begins with the assuring and awakening love of God.
This weekend, read the book of Malachi. As you do, look for the road laid out before you that leads to spiritual renewal. Pray with me for Grace Community Church to walk that road.