By Pastor Dennis Yim
Old Testament Passage: Malachi 1:2-4
2 “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, 3 but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau’s inheritance into a desert for jackals.”
4 Esau’s descendants in Edom may say, “We have been shattered, but we will rebuild the ruins.”
But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies replies, “They may try to rebuild, but I will demolish them again. Their country will be known as ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and their people will be called ‘The People with Whom the Lord Is Forever Angry.’ 5 When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, ‘Truly, the Lord’s greatness reaches far beyond Israel’s borders!’ ”
“The best proof that He will never cease to love us lies in that He never began.” – Geerhardus Vos
God, Do You Still Love Me?
Have you ever felt so miserable because of your failures and wrongs? Have you ever questioned whether God has abandoned you because you “sinned too much” and felt there’s no way that He could continue to love you and walk with you? Have you ever doubted your security in Christ? These are the questions that the people of God were asking themselves in Malachi 1:2-4. Even after returning from Babylon, their hopes of normalcy faded away. They thought all things would be go back to the good old days when they flourished and prospered; but instead, they were hit with famine, poverty, oppression and faithlessness. In the midst of their misery they failed morally, became spiritually loose, became prideful and extremely skeptical. But it doesn’t end here; Israel’s heart became callous, she was less aware, or I should say, she became numb to the realities of God’s presence in her life. But God never leaves His people in their misery and failures, He always moves towards them. Malachi was sent to remind Israel that God still loves them. His covenantal love is unconditional because it’s not contingent upon His people’s faithfulness, rather it’s contingent upon His faithfulness and very character. It is God’s very character to love His people whom He has chosen from eternity past. God’s unconditional love has profound meaning in the context of His election; He loves us because He has chosen us to be His people that He would love unconditionally and unceasingly. There’s comfort in this truth. If God has chosen us, He would surely never stop loving us; He will do everything that He can to prove His love for us so that we would come to the sobering reality that His covenantal love can never be tarnished by our own faithlessness.
The Unconditional Love of Christ
The Unconditional Love of Christ
How many times have we allowed our hearts to listen to the lies of our own failures? How many times have we given into our guilt and shame? How many times have you asked yourself, “God, I messed up too much this time, do you still love me?” God answers these doubts with His Son. Jesus Christ has revealed to us the depths and riches of the Father’s love. Jesus came to not simply die so that we would be forgiven, but He came as the divine shalomic warrior who came to destroy the bondage of sin and death. He came to liberate you from the lies of your failures, and from your guilt and shame. Through the victory of Jesus Christ, the Father has proven to us that His love will always win at the end. In this victory, you have been united to Jesus Christ, and in Him you will never be able to stray away from Him, you will never have gone too far, you will never have “sinned too much.” Jesus is keeping you close in His arms of love, and when you think that maybe, just maybe, you have finally tested His patience, Jesus will say to you, “I still love you” (1:2). God still loves you no matter how many times you’ve doubted him, you’ve decided to live according to your own passion and desires, after worshipping your own man-made idols. Despite all of that, God still loves you unconditionally.
Reflection and Prayer
Take some time to reflect with your family and friends on how your guilt and shame has affected your relationship with Christ? Reflect on some of the doubts that you wrestle with when you make mistakes in your relationship with Christ? Take some time to pray and to repent – repentance is not simply asking God to forgive you (which is very important), but it’s also an acknowledgement that we are completely dependent upon Him and we ask Him to reorder our loves so that we may live a life that reflects Him in the Spirit. Ask the Lord to help you find comfort and peace in the midst of your doubts and mess. Ask the Lord to allow His words to penetrate your heart in such a way that would move you to love your neighbors who need the love of Christ.
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen