How Not to Worship: Apathy

Kevin DeYoung

READ : Malachi 1:6-14

And you say, “What a burden!” (v. 13, NIV)

Another of Malachi’s arguments between the Lord and his people begins in verse 6. God accuses his priests of showing contempt for his name, and they ask, “How?” The Lord replies with a three-part answer.

First, by offering apathetic worship. Costly worship had become burdensome to them. So they cut corners by offering injured and diseased animals, which were unacceptable in the Lord’s sight.

The priests knew the right thing to do. But they weren’t interested in complete obedience. That would have cost them something. “A little religious ceremony is one thing,” they thought, “but why give away the best and strongest animals when you can substitute cripples? What does God care? It’s no big deal.” But it was a big deal because God was worthy of the very best. Moreover, the sins of the people demanded a perfect sacrifice.

Thankfully, God has provided the perfect sacrifice for us in the person of Jesus Christ. But God still opposes apathetic worship. He does not want us to merely go through the motions Sunday after Sunday. He is not pleased with half-hearted songs, prayers, and sermons. Stop lighting “useless fires on my altar! . . . says the Lord Almighty” (v. 10, NIV). The Lord is a great king and demands to be worshiped with our whole hearts, in spirit and truth.


Father, help us to worship with obedience and joy. Amen.