Is it worth it? Is living to please God something more than a motivational speech at a conference? Something more than a time-honored phrase we use to motivate young believers? Do people actually live this way … and enjoy it?
You won’t get the pats on the back you might expect. Few, even of the believers, will appreciate the cost you are willing to pay. To many, you will seem antiquated and out of touch, needlessly depriving yourself of the “legitimate” things which life may offer.
It was into a similar atmosphere the stirring and piercing preaching of Malachi came. The majority of the nation was marked by doubting God’s love (1:2), dishonoring God’s Name (1:6), despising the sacrifices (1:7), denying the covenants (2:14), and defrauding God (3:8). In essence, they were living to please themselves. It was then, against the dark background of the nation, we read: “then they that feared the Lord … “(3:16, KJV).
They were marked by:
Moving in the Fear of the Lord
Contrary to what many think, the fear of the Lord is not a dread of God’s punishment for our infractions of His law. It is, rather, a holy dread of grieving Him and a longing desire to please Him. All begins here. It is the equivalent of the NT term “godliness,” or a longing to please His heart. It is not living to please men or even other believers. We are not insensitive to others, but we live to please Him. This is what was foremost in the minds of this small band in Malachi’s day.
Meditating on the Name of the Lord
They spoke to encourage one another. They “thought upon His Name” means more than merely thinking of God (3:16, KJV). Thinking upon His Name implies having His will and desires as the first priority. He is the Covenant-keeping God, and they held fast to His promises. They did not find ways around the Word of God, but sought to make inroads into it. Their conversation centered around Him and His Word. It is the centrality of God and of His Word which binds an assembly of diverse cultural backgrounds, ethnic origins, and socioeconomic status together.
Memorialized in the Book of the Lord
To those who were faithful in a difficult day, God promised a Book of Remembrance, to be inscribed with the names of those who so lived to please Him. God appreciated and will honor those who are faithful to Him. Nations inscribe the names of heroes in books on earth. It takes Christian heroes to live to please God in the society where we are found.
Manifested as Jewels by the Lord
When will the value of living to please God be seen? When? “They shall be mine” says God (3:17, KJV) “in that day when I make up My jewels.” Every believer belongs to God, but there is a promise of special recognition and appreciation by God for faithfulness in a difficult day. The same sentiment is seen in His message to the assembles in Revelation 2 and 3. In the words of the hymn, “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.” “Then” and “when” should mark and motivate us.