I’ve been reading through the Bible this year using YouVersion’s Chronological Reading Plan. I’ve really enjoyed this plan, as you get to see how things happened in order and in context.
A recent reading really struck me, as it had immense implications for our worship ministry. As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, I’ve never quite known which book will be next each morning, since the readings are not in the same order as the Bible. The reading also stood out to me, even though I’ve read it before, because I’m reading it with a different version – the New Living Translation, which I’m really enjoying! Today’s reading was from Malachi, and this passage stuck out to me in relation to the offerings we bring as worship leaders to the altar.
6 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!
“But you ask, `How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’
7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.
“Then you ask, `How have we defiled the sacrifices?
“You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.“8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Malachi 1:6-9
Wow. This passage may not have been written with the worship leader in mind, but being one, that’s how I read it. Notice first that this admonition is written to the priests – the ones bringing the sacrifices to the altar. Quality control, if you will. I wonder how many times we’ve settled, and brought crippled offerings of praise and worship to Him. How many half-prepared, barely holding it together songs have we brought to the altar? How many blind solos or diseased dramas have we given Him? Is He pleased with that kind of sacrifice? Does that show Him the honor and respect that He deserves? Can we expect to receive His favor if we’re not careful with the offerings we’re bringing Him?
I know excellence shouldn’t be our #1 goal, and I’ve even heard someone say that excellence can be an idol. But, I don’t think we can ignore it or disregard it completely. We need to strive to bring our best to Him in everything we do. This passage may not be directly referring to music; it may be referring more to bringing your tithes and offerings. This passage says a lot about that, too! But, as a worship leader, our gifts and offerings in the area of music is our sacrifice of praise.
Oh Lord, I don’t want to show contempt for Your name, or offer defiled sacrifices at your altar. I want to show You the honor and respect You deserve in the sacrifices I prepare with my team each week that I lay on your altar. I do beg for your mercy, O Lord. Thank you for your forgiveness and grace for all the times I’ve failed in that area.
Let’s make that our challenge this week as we prepare our sacrifices of praise with our teams!