“The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”
Malachi 2:7-9 New Living Translation
The focus of Malachi’s message turns to the priests and Levites. Apparently, the priests had given into corruption and were neglecting their responsibility as impartial messengers of God to the people. The point of the covenant God had made with the priests was to bring life and peace to the people. Their lives and teaching were supposed to be an example of the goodness of God to all who would hear it. Instead of leading the people in the way of righteousness, this generation of priests had caused many to stumble and turn their backs on God. They had led the people into sin and broken their covenant with God. Instead of showing impartiality in carrying out their duties they were showing favoritism based on wealth or other standards. Because of this, God had allowed them to become despised in the eyes of the people.
The community of the followers of Jesus has been given the opportunity to be a royal priesthood before a watching world. The church today is where people should be able to hear the words of life and peace. Sadly, this is not always the case, though. There are times when it is hard to distinguish the followers of Jesus from the values of society around them. Instead of lives of humility and righteousness, sometimes the church is driven by the same greed, debaucher, and quest for power that characterizes the worst of society. Favoritism is always a temptation, as well. Instead of caring for the “least of these” among us, we can get caught up in pursuing the same wealth and celebrity that we see celebrated in the world around us. When this happens, we cease to be the salt and light in the world that Jesus has called us to be. A faith community that persists in dishonoring God through its words and deeds will eventually find itself replaced by those who seek to honor the name of God and represent Him well.
God, forgive us for the times we have misrepresented and dishonored you before our neighbors. Help us to be a community of faith that lives in a way that points people to the life and peace You have for them.