“I’m Tired of Serving the Lord”
Introduction: Sometimes we get tired of being Christians, of living the way we do, in going to church, in attending worship one and two and three times a week. It’s very easy to lose the spirit of the thing, so that it all becomes tedious and wearying. I’ve always been amazed at actors on Broadway who can say the same lines and play the same role night after night after night, sometimes for years. They have to approach every performance as if it were opening night. They can’t allow themselves to become weary of their roles. And here we are—what we’re doing isn’t acting or playing a role. It’s real; but sometimes we get tired of it. Just like we might get tired of being married, or tired of staying sober, or tired of reading your Bible. We get tired of working for the Lord; tired of singing or teaching or preparing lessons or sermons. We ask, “What’s the use?” The old time Christians (especially the desert monks) had a name for this – accidie (ak’-si-dee). I have an old book for ministers that devotes a very long chapter to warning against accidie in the ministry. The word “accidie” means listlessness, weariness, a state of losing our zeal, depression or depressed spirits. I have to guard against this all the time. I feel like I’m hiking along the White Cliffs of Dover, and I have to be careful to stay away from the edge. That’s the problem addressed by the prophet Malachi, and he does it through the literary device of conversation. He says something to Israel, imagines their response and protest, and then addresses the issue.
Background: The book of Malachi came at the end of the Old Testament story, after Judah had been defeated and destroyed by Babylon and allowed to restart by Persia. Most of the Jewish people were still scattered among the nations, but a remnant was back in the Promised Land. They had reconstructed the temple. They had reestablished their worship patterns. They had rebuilt the walls. But now what? Years had passed. No Messiah. No progress. No real vision. Nothing to really work for. They were going through the motions of their religious and national life, but what was the point? Malachi deals with six issues. We looked at the first one last time—when we’re no longer moved with God’s love (Malachi 1:1-5). The second issue is found in Malachi 1:6 – 2:9—when we’re no longer fresh in His service. Notice this passage is primarily addressed to the priests, to the clergy, to the prophets of Israel (1:6 and 2:1).
Scripture Reading: Malachi 1:6 – 2:9
A. We Have Ministry Fatigue When We Bring Less Than Our Best to God in Worship (1:6 – 14). They were bringing their diseased animals instead of the best of their flocks. We’re often careless in the way we approach the presence of the Lord. We fail to give Him our best. To Malachi, the answer was to start thinking of our God as we would think of a great human dignitary we were visiting. Our God is greater than any human personage. He is One whose name is great among the nations (v. 11) and as a great king whose name is to be feared around the world (v. 14). Imagine how you’d feel if you were invited to the White House to meet the president or to the Vatican to meet the pope? We need to use our imagination when we have our daily devotions and when we come to church, and visualize the great privilege of being with the great king whose name is to be honored among the nations.
B. We Have Ministry Fatigue When We Don’t Teach the Bible with Excellence (2:1-9). They weren’t teaching Scripture in a way that preserved knowledge and represented the instruction of the Lord. The teaching of the priests was actually causing people to stumble. Perhaps they were teaching things that were wrong, or perhaps they were saying the right things in a dull and disinterested manner. We must realize whenever we lead a lesson or teach a class or preach as sermon, we’re a messenger of the Lord Almighty (verse 7). I often tell ministers that we have two jobs—one is to show people new things from the Scripture; to give them new insights (as I’m seeking to do by teaching Malachi, for example). The other is to give them old insights as though they were new.
Conclusion: Gypsy Smith came to the Lord as a boy living in a gipsy wagon, and he went into the ministry and labored for decades, until he was up in years. People used to ask him, “Gypsy, how do you manage to stay fresh, to maintain your zeal and excitement. His answer: “I’ve never lost the wonder of it all.” Let’s take care of ourselves, nurture our hearts, kindle our imaginations, and stay close to the Lord so that we never grow weary in our work for Him. Let never lose the wonder of it all.