Yesterday I posted about the reality of spiritual drifting. The Book of Malachi provides six signs that serve as indicators that we might be adrift.
1. You begin to doubt God’s love (Malachi 1:2-3).
“I have always loved you,” says the LORD. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?” And the LORD replies, “This is how I showed my love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob, but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country.”
2. You offer less than your best to God (Malachi 1:6-7).
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?’ “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.”
3. You take for granted your closest human relationships (Malachi 2:13-16).
Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
4. You are untroubled by sin and evil (Malachi 2:17).
You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the LORD’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
5. You have an inaccurate self perception (Malachi 3:6-7).
“I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’
6. You become disillusioned in your faith (Malachi 3:13-15).
“You have said terrible things about me,” says the LORD. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’”
Malachi’s prophetic word regarding drifting is well taken. But the most helpful word he offers is God’s relentless invitation for us to return to him. Though we may experience spiritual drifting, we are never beyond our Father’s reach.