TEACHING DEVOTIONALS FROM MALACHI
THE STANDARD FOR GODLY LEADERSHIP
By Henry Jaegers
And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace, and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not. found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity and did turn many away from iniquity. For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. (Malachi2: 4-7)
It is proper that God should remind the priests of this great responsibility that they have had placed upon them. This reminder was necessary because they seemed to have forgotten or not understood it at all.
Going back to the book of Leviticus in chapter 4, when speaking particularly of the sin offerings, there is mention four different lines of responsibility assigned by God for his people. The levels of responsibility were shown by the various offerings they were to give as an atonement for their sin. First in responsibility, was the priesthood. Since these were God's chosen representatives of himself, they were given the greatest responsibility toward the people. When they sinned, their offering was the most severe. We must remember this because at the outset it speaks to us of how important the priesthood was to God. The second level mentioned was that of the congregation. The third level was addressed to the leaders, and finally, the fourth level was to the common people. But the point we wish to make regarding this is the high standard that God had for the priests. We need to mention also, that besides the offerings and the ministries that they performed, what was most important to God was the character of the priests themselves. The corrupt character was not acceptable to God regarding the priesthood. Whatever ministries they performed godly character must be present.
There is an application here in that we can be very involved in ministries and service, yet these ministries become corrupted due to the character of the people who are doing them. The bottom line is, that God is concerned about the character than the conduct. Only conduct that proceeds from godly character brings glory to God. That is a New Testament principle found in Matthew 5:16. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. That is the standard set by God for all those claiming the call of God in their life. The call of God first, is “to be” and what we inwardly determine the quality of our gift.
This is the problem with the people to whom Malachi addressed these words. They were following the leadership of people, particularly priests, who were corrupt in their character and it influenced greatly the quality of service that came forth from these people.