Week of Monday, June 14 ­– Sunday, June 20
Leftovers – Man as a Chaplain

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” … 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. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. 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. – Malachi 1:2a, 6-8 ESV

Guys, is it just me, or do you have a hard time getting excited about leftovers? Like you, I’d rather have a freshly prepared meal than re-heating something from the fridge that’s a few days old. Leftovers are not the best. You know there are times we serve up leftovers in life. It happens with work. Sometimes our boss gets our leftovers. It happens in marriage. You love your wife, but if you’re honest, you’re taking her for granted and she’s not getting your best. And it happens in your spiritual life, too. You show up at church, sing some songs, listen to a sermon, maybe throw a few bucks in the offering plate, and go home unmoved and unchanged. And what about our prayer lives? Do you do what I have often done—lay down at night when I’m ready to go to sleep and begin my prayers only to find that I am struggling to stay awake, and maybe fall asleep before I finish? Oh, so I am the only one that has had that problem? Well, I think some of you have had the same experience. Basically, we just served God our leftovers.

If we are honest, we’d have to admit to not giving our best from time to time. We can all relate to these verses in Malachi 1. It’s interesting that before God got to the part where He confronted Israel for offering Him leftovers and going through the motions in worship, He wanted to make sure they knew He loved them. Any indictment He made against them, any discipline they would face because of their sin, was rooted in His love for them. Even when they weren’t giving God their best and loving Him the way He deserved, He was giving them His best. God’s love is never some re-heated leftover kind of love. He never goes through the motions when it comes to His love for us. He offered the most precious thing of all—His Son to take our place and our punishment on a cruel cross.

Contrast that with what the people and priests were doing. When it came to sacrifices, they were bringing their leftovers, their seconds, their hand-me-downs, and their yard-sale-rejects to the Temple. They turned the Temple into one big white elephant deal, thinking that their junk would be God’s treasure. God has always made it clear—bring me the best or bring me nothing (Lev. 22:17ff spells out what He requires). Don’t cull out the worst thing you have and say, “Well, we’ll give this to God.” Our worship of God becomes worthless when we offer to God that which is the easiest, the cheapest, the quickest that we can get by with.

The people in Malachi’s day were giving God their leftovers without any real love or honor for the Lord in their hearts. Worse still, they tried to deny it. In essence, they asked God, “What are you talking about?” But the evidence was plain. Their casual attitude toward worship, especially in offering sacrifices, was a conscious choice and clear proof that they weren’t showing the love, respect, and honor God was due. Consequently, God basically told them: “Don’t bother!”

Listen, an apathetic approach to worship indicates an apathetic attitude toward God. And that’s not the spiritual climate God wants us to live in. As men who have been given the role of Chaplain with our families, in our communities, and on our jobs, serving up leftovers and going through the motions like that has far-reaching consequences if left unchecked because it impacts other people. They follow the example we set.

What should we do about it? First, we should learn from the bad example set by the Jews in Malachi’s day when it comes to offering God leftovers. We shouldn’t deny it. We should own it. Then second, we should course correct before we drift even further from God. If we’re neglecting time with God and not preparing ourselves to encounter Him—only giving Him the “leftovers” of our time, money, talents, and so forth—we need to repent—turn it around so that we can engage in worship that pleases Him and lead others to do the same. God deserves better from us and so do those we lead.

  • Are you giving God your leftovers? Are you going through the motions or cutting any corners in your relationship with God? What will you do about it?
  • Thank God for His love for you. Thank Him that He never gives you leftovers but always gives you His very best, even when you aren’t giving Him yours.
  • Ask God to show you specific ways you can be a better Chaplain so that you and others who look to you will worship Him with your best, which is what He not only desires but deserves.