“Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. – Malachi 3:13–18 (ESV)
We need to get together with other Christians. Did you hear how the people of God are described in this passage? They are variously called “those who feared the LORD,” “those who honored the name,” “the righteous,” and “those who serve God.” The godly are thus characterized by their love for God and by their obedience to Him. Yet, Malachi draws our attention to just one thing that the true children of God are doing in this passage. Verse 16: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another.” … Oh, come on, there must have been more important things that they were doing that Malachi could have told us about! … Not really. What Malachi tells us is really important: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another.” Against the rugged individualism which runs through American culture – the LORD is reminding us that the Christian life is not something we can do by ourselves.
You have probably heard the illustration of a pastor visiting a man who protested that he didn’t need to participate in public worship services in order to walk with the LORD and to lead a good religious life. They were talking outside while the man was grilling over some hot coals. The pastor picked up a single hot coal with some tongs and set it down on a rock – and they continued their conversation. A little later the pastor picked up the coal in his bare hands and said: “You see what happened to this coal?” Left by itself it quickly became cold. The same thing is true for us as Christians. This is one of the reasons why the LORD has commanded: “Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together.”
Beloved, this is true for all of us too! We need to gather together regularly to stir up one another to love and good works, to listen to God’s word together and to sing His praises. This is so central to our lives as Christians, and to growing in our faith, that many of us felt a tremendous loss when we couldn’t gather together for just a few months – and we were still encouraging one another in our like precious faith through Zoom, and through cards, and through phone calls. We have a need to get together regularly with other Christians.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 60
Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.