Marked With Distinction
Walking in righteousness amidst a wicked world can make one cynical; even critical. The root of a critical sprit reveals itself from time to time in our lives when we complain to God about our situation and compare our lives to those who live independently of God and appear to escape his eye. Even with our secure identity in Christ we might often think that the grass is greener on the side of those who do not follow God, but not so green on our own side. Yet, even in being critical of our circumstance we are actually criticizing God. Let’s take a look at how we do this.
In Malachi 3, we see Israel as they fail to understand the benefit of keeping God’s law. In fact, those who followed God in their day said that those who do not know God appear to be happy while Israel looks like a mourner in it’s service to God. In their view, the evil are successful. Those who oppose God escape his judgement. On the other hand, those who know God and follow his ways, seemingly suffer great loss at times. Despite these claims from Israel, they were ignorant of their own hypocrisy (which is what the Lord is dealing with in the book of Malachi). Many were following God’s law in the public place but in the inner place; from a complete and undivided whole-heart. They were allowing idols into their life, rendering their worship acts invalid.
Amidst misdirected worship, what I find so interesting about this passage in scripture is that the Lord took notice of those who revered the Lord (3:16). Even though Israel’s self-inflicted piety had wrong motives and was mixed with hypocrisy, the Lord took notice of the righteous among them and considered their complaint. Then God makes a beautiful declaration by saying,”They (the righteous) will belong to me in the day when I prepare my own special property.”
You know, even in our own hypocrisy at times as Christians, God still makes a pronouncement about us. He says, ‘You belong to me.’ Through Christ, You belong to him. You are written in God’s book, his ‘memory book’ (literal translation) which is mentioned throughout scripture (Ex 32:32; Is 4:3; Dan 12:1; Rev 20:12-15). And, the book of life was prepared before the foundation of the world! What a picture of God’s grace and mercy!
Though Christ has distinguished us today in part from the Spirit’s deposit in our lives, why is the full distinction of the righteous to be revealed in eternity and not in the present? To put it bluntly, I don’t know the answer to this question. Nevertheless, let’s consider again the question the ancients asked by saying, “How have we been helped,” by serving the Lord? I do have the answer for that: We have been marked with distinction and set apart for the day of the Lord to be his and his alone.