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When I was little, I once heard my dad read from Malachi 3:8, where the Lord asked, “Will a man rob God?” At the time, I thought it was impossible for a man to rob God because God is God; what could we possibly rob from Him? Now that I am older, I see how dad by day we rob God of what should be given to Him. So, I ask the question today: Do you honor the Lord? Are you robbing God of the honor that is due Him?
Honor and Respect
Honor is a word that we often run across in scripture. For example, many of us will probably think of the commandment that was given to Israel to honor their fathers and their mothers (Ex. 20:12). This is a commandment that is so significant that even we of the church age are told in New Testament scripture to honor our fathers and our mothers (Eph. 6:1-3).
You see, honor plays a role in the great commandment. In the book of Deuteronomy, when speaking of the great commandment, Moses said to Israel to love the Lord with all their heart and to honor (fear) and serve only Him (Deut. 6:4). When asked, Jesus said the great commandment is to love the Lord with our whole heart, and in that love we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Luke 10:25-28).
So, what does the word ‘honor’ mean to you? Typically, when we think of honor, we also think of respect because we try to use both words interchangeably. However, there is a great difference between honor and respect.
Respect, as we like to say, is earned rather than given. Respect is typically earned through one’s actions and how they treat us. However, honor is freely given to that which is worthy of praise. I would also tell you that when you honor something or someone, you do it in remembrance of them.
For example, I live day by day honoring (remembering) how my parents, and those that had a great effect on me growing up, taught and helped to raise me; I do my best not to let myself down nor disappoint them — I want to make them proud! I may not have great riches but it makes me feel good in my soul to think of mom and dad being proud of the man of faith I have become.
You Should Honor the Lord
So, I ask today: are you living your life to honor the Lord? Are you living your life to please and to make Him happy? Is God worthy of your honor?
Honor is due Him
Let’s take a look at how honor is due to Him. In order to do this, let us consider the commandment given to children to honor their parents.
The relationship between children and parents is like God’s relationship with us, mankind. You see, parents love their children unconditionally, right? In this love, a parent supplies their child’s every need because the child cannot care for themselves. Parents care for their children with the desire for their children to grow and prosper. This sounds very much like Jeremiah 29:11 where God tells us that His thoughts towards us are to give us a future and a hope.
The Lord loves us unconditionally; just look at how the sun rises for all and how the rain falls down on all as a gift and blessing from God (Matt. 5:45). For all of us who are of faith, we know that the Lord knows our needs before we even ask (Matt. 6:8) and that He supplies our every need. Even though we worry about things, we don’t have to as we know that as the flowers of the field are cared for, we are more precious than them and receive greater love and care from the Father (Matt. 6:28-30).
The Lord loves us unconditionally and there is absolutely no doubt about that in my heart! Even in our missteps, the Lord loves us as He corrects and forgives us of our transgressions against Him. The Lord has never abandoned us — He is our helper (Heb. 13:5). I stand as a testimony and will say to you that without the Lord, I would not be here with you today! So, I share this with you today because I don’t want you to think for one second that God is not worthy of your honor!
Robbing God of Honor
Again, in Deuteronomy 31:12 Moses said to the people that they should fear (honor) the Lord. How would they go about honoring the Lord? They were to carefully observe all the words of the law (God’s instructions). The people were to honor the Lord by the substance of their faith and with the firstfruits of their produce. In other words, they were to honor God by governing their lives according to His every word.
Do you honor the Lord? Are you carefully observing the Lord’s instructions? Are you governing your life by living according to God’s every word in obedience?
Will a man rob God?
To the children of Israel, the Lord said to them in my key verse, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master.” He then said and asked them, “If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?”
God was looking for His honor and was essentially asking Israel, ‘what are y’all doing? Where is my honor?’ You see, I am of the belief that the Lord should not have to ask to be honored by anybody! Israel should have been honoring Him without question and pleading. All of us today should be honoring the Lord without question and pleading!
That being said, Israel was not honoring the Lord as they should have been! Of all the people on the earth at that time, Israel should have certainly been the ones honoring the Lord both night and day! Why do I say that?
Well, think about it: God certainly loved Israel unconditionally! The Lord brought Israel’s forefathers out of the bondage of Egypt! After that, the Lord then chose to make a covenant with them and gave them His law to live by. Had the children of Israel honored His law, they would have become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:5).
Instead of honoring the Lord, we know that Israel sinned at Mount Sinai and dishonored the promise they had made to Him. But even after they sinned at Mount Sinai, God forgave them and continued to bless them. Israel entered the Promised Land and God gave them kings like David and Solomon that they acquired great wealth and prospered under.
However, after all of these things, the Lord had to ask where was His reverence! Honestly, the fact that God had to ask that question is wild to me! As I opened this sermon, God had also asked them: “Will a man rob God?” The answer to this question is a very loud yes.
How man rob God
So, how does a man rob God and what does a man rob Him of? Just take a look at God’s words to Israel. To Israel, the Lord was saying that they were robbing Him of the honor that was due to Him. Rather than being obedient to Him, His promise, and His instructions, Israel chose disobedience. By choosing disobedience and not keeping the promise they made with the Lord, they dishonored Him.
The Lord said to Israel that they had robbed Him in tithes and in offerings (Mal. 3:8). Oftentimes when that statement is mentioned in the church, we begin to think about the collection plate and that the church is “begging for money”. Yet, this passage of scripture has nothing to do with a greedy church.
You see, the tithes were used to help those who were in need. Guess what the Lord has called on us to do? Has He not called on us to love our neighbor and to help those in need?
God expected Israel to give a tenth of the best in an offering as a sign of honoring His providence and care. While Israel was to give the Lord their best, they had developed a Cain kind of mindset. What do I mean by this? God was simply not a priority in their life; they chose not to put their best foot forward when it came to honoring the Lord (Gen. 4:3-7).
Even worse is that within Malachi 1, it wasn’t just the common person that dishonored God in Israel but the priests also dishonored Him! Those whose role was to serve God on behalf of the people had chosen to despise Him, according to the Lord. The priest dishonored the Lord by blatantly choosing not to follow His instructions.
Something as simple as keeping the instructions of making offerings that pleased the Lord was something the priests dishonored. The Lord tells us that the priests were making profane offerings (Mal.1:7-8); by doing this they made a mockery of making pleasing offerings to the Lord and this angered the Lord. To make matters worse, the Lord said the priests knew they were doing wrong and continued to do so believing that they were entitled to be blessed by Him (Mal. 1:13)!
Do you believe you are entitled to God’s blessings? The world should be honoring the Lord without question and without hesitation but look at the world! When the world was living in sin, we know that God made a promise to the world through His only begotten Son. When you were lost in sin, God gave His only begotten Son to reach out and lift you up unto life! As He did with Israel, He has given us instructions to make us holy.
The world robbing God of honor
But again I tell you to look at the world! Are you making a mockery out of God and His word? Are you robbing Him of the honor due Him? I believe that God looks at the world today and He is asking, ‘what are you doing? Where is My honor and reverence?’
In his first letter, Peter wrote, “to you who believe, He (Christ – the Lord) is precious.” However, to those that choose to be disobedient, Christ is the stone that the builders rejected to be the cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:7). That rejected cornerstone has become the chief cornerstone by which those who are of faith are able to stand, but those of disobedience stumble over (1 Pet. 2:8).
As I said from May throughout all of June, our world is in a spiritual mess; it’s in that mess because we dishonor the Lord. Jesus said it Himself that the world hated (despised) Him because He was not of the nature of sin and spoke against it (John 15:18-19). So, it should come as absolutely no shock that the world does not honor the Lord, but rather, it spits in His face. You see, we live in a very arrogant world that does not believe God is worthy of any honor.
The truly sad part about this is that honor is a big deal in the world but honor gets thrown around like it’s nothing. For example, this week, many will ‘honor’ freedom and justice with pomp and circumstance, but we throw that honor out the window when we don’t honor each other with the ideals of love expressed by the “freedoms won”.
When it comes to God, rather than honoring Him, we are quick to honor and idolize folks who haven’t done a thing for us and wouldn’t know us from the next person! The Lord is right to ask, ‘where is My honor?’ God is certainly worthy of our honor as He is the sovereign ruler over all things. Yet, like the priest, we dishonor the Lord by not being sincere to Him. We dishonor the Lord because where His word should abide in the hearts of man, His word is actually very far from us.
As Israel followed in the way of Cain, by not putting their best foot forward for the Lord, the world has also adopted the way of Cain. The world stands before the Lord and mocks the idea of giving a tenth of our best: we don’t pray, we don’t worship, we don’t love each other — we don’t move in sincere faith! Many of us stand before the Lord and believe we are entitled to have all of His blessings while walking all over Him in complete dishonor; we don’t give Him the time of day!
God Wants Honor
In his first epistle, John wrote that we should not be as Cain who went and murdered his brother (1 John 3:12). You and I should move to put our best foot forward because that is what God desires from us. God, I want you to understand, asks us where His honor is because the Lord desires for us to honor Him!
The beautiful thing about the Lord is where a parent might have moments of being disappointed by their children, we can’t disappoint the Lord. The truth of the matter is that we would actually disappoint ourselves before we actually ever disappointed the Lord. You see, you must remember that God is love! In His love, the Lord has said to us that in our weaknesses, His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect (2 Cor. 12:9).
God is very quick to forgive those that genuinely turn to Him. Does this mean it is OK for us to have moments of weakness where we dishonor the Lord? Absolutely not! The Lord clearly desires for us to honor Him so let us move to do so!
How do we honor the Lord? You and I honor the Lord by remembering Him and His word. In the book of Revelation, to the church that had left its first love, the Lord called on them to remember from where they had fallen. God called on them to repent and to do the first works or else He would come quickly to remove their lampstand (Rev. 2:5). Anyone that arrogantly thinks for one second that they don’t need God, they need to think again and repent, especially the one professing to be of faith – you don’t want to lose the joy of your salvation.
So, what are the first works? The first work is to love the Lord and in this love we should love all of those around us. In Proverbs 3:9-10, we are told to honor the Lord with our possessions, and with the firstfruits of our increase. When we do this, the proverb says that our barns will be filled with plenty – we will be blessed and highly favored.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul stated that those who are rich in this present age should do good and be rich in good works, ready to give, and willing to share (1 Tim. 6:17-18). In his first epistle, John wrote that whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? How does that one honor the Lord?
To honor the Lord, we must not harden our hearts – we must open them wide open (1 John 3:16-17)! When you have the ability to help, honor the Lord! When you have the ability to uplift, honor the Lord!
The children of Israel were commanded to honor their fathers and mothers that their days may be long in the land promised to them. When we honor the Lord, Jesus said that we will have everlasting life in the kingdom of God (John 3:16). So I encourage you to honor the Lord in how you live. When you do this, God will honor you today with great favor. I encourage you, again, to honor the Lord by how you live and tomorrow He will honor you with keys to His heavenly kingdom.