The Worst Kind of Pollution
It's important that we take care of the earth because God gave it to us and put us in charge of it (Gen 1:26-31), and it reflects Who He is (Ps 19:1-6, Rom 1:19-20). So it’s good to recycle and not liter; be careful with our use of electricity and water; and do what we can to save the planet. But there’s a kind of pollution we’re probably unaware of. I was until I recently came across a passage in the Old Testament. One that is more pervasive and damaging than anything we see or know about. The worst kind. It’s found in the opening chapter of Malachi. God is speaking through the prophet to the priests…
"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' By offering polluted food upon my altar. (Mal 1:6-7a ESV)
Every morning and evening, the priests made animal sacrifices. The people were also to bring offerings for sin, peace, guilt, and many other reasons and occasions. They were to be perfect, without blemish or defect. The best of the flock or herd. But the Jews got lazy and greedy and instead, started bringing God the worst…
But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the Lord's table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. (Mal 1:7b-8 ESV)
God refers to these animals as polluted. And we can see why. They were damaged, useless, throw away beasts. They didn’t cost the one bringing them anything so they weren’t really sacrifices. And they got away with it because the priests didn’t care and probably thought God didn’t either – or He didn’t notice. But He did. He always does. The people of that day had more respect for their government leaders because they wouldn’t let the Jews get away with offering less than what was required. They mistakenly thought the Almighty would.
Through this disrespectful practice, the Israelites were also, in a sense, polluting God’s reputation. The very thing they should have been protecting and magnifying…
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord's table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. (Mal 1:11-12 ESV)
It’s easy to read this passage and be angry, frustrated, even incensed. Yet how often do we do the same thing? When it comes to our resources, time, talents, or effort, do we always offer our best to the Lord? Or do we give or serve halfheartedly and think God will accept or be pleased with it? He won’t. And our laziness or carelessness also reflects poorly on Him. Instead of bringing glory to the Almighty, they make Him look bad, weak, even unworthy, unimportant, or unreal. Our mailing it in
is the worst kind of pollution because it's a slap in the face to our Lord. The One Who sent His Son to die for us. Who gave everything to have a relationship with and save us.
The next time we pick up trash from the street or throw something in the recycling bin, may it remind to us to give our Heavenly Father the first and best of all we have and are.
Just something that’s causing me to self-evaluate along the way.