You have wearied the Lord with your words.
“How have we wearied him?” you ask.
By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” Mal 2:17
Basically, the Jews were complaining to God about the prosperity of the wicked. They whined about the injustice of it all: Why would God lavish his blessings those who weren’t following him, and scrimp on his blessings for them?
It’s so easy to feel like we’re being shortchanged.
And it’s so easy to point our fingers at the sins of others.
I was in Walmart yesterday. A mother was pushing one of her children around in the cart, while her other child wandered the aisle, looking at merchandise that interested him. When it was time to move on, she told the child in the aisle, “Let’s go.” But the young boy kept on looking at the things on the shelf. “He’s not coming,” the kid in the cart informed his mom in an annoying tone. That child wanted to be sure his mom knew that his sibling wasn’t obeying.
Isn’t that the way we are? We want to be sure that God knows how wrong others are. We can see the injustice so clearly. “It’s not right” we rail. “They need to be fixed!”
And yet, like the Jews, we can be blind to the things we need to fix in our own characters. “In their own eye they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their own sin.” Ps 36:2
The only person we can really change is ourselves.
A few weeks ago, someone called my attention to some ways I had wronged them, and some shortcomings in my character. I got very upset. I wanted so badly to stew, and dwell on the unfairness, the shortcomings in THEIR character. But I knew I had to use this instead as an opportunity to do some deep self searching. It took a Herculean effort to pull my attention back to myself, and pray, day after day, to be able to see and change the things I needed to change. Slowly, over time, with a lot of grace and help from God, my eyes were opened and I grew.
So I know how tempting it is to give into bitterness, to look at others and not myself.
For me, just like in Malachi, the bitterness also takes the form of envy. I catch myself longing to have what others have. Or, I should say, what they appear to have — no trials in their marriage, no problems with their kids. They seem happy and successful at their jobs. They look vigorous and attractive. Their life seems smooth, without challenge.
And to make myself feel better, I point out their flaws, “They drink too much. All they care about is things. They’re arrogant. They’re shallow and worldly.”
The thing is, God says this pervasive attitude makes him bone weary and dog tired.
Wait! God can’t get exhausted with us, he’s long suffering. It’s true. God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Ex 34:6)
But one of the few things that gets old with God is a lack of faith. It was the same with Jesus when he was on earth. “You of little faith,” he would say.
That’s the root of it. We don’t trust. We don’t believe that God will take care of us. We don’t believe that God is enough for us. And then we start wishing for greener grass.
We say, “Where is the God of justice? We need more blessings!” And then we rant, “Why don’t you do something about all of these people who are messing up the world?”
But God doesn’t need us to be his magnifying glass of what is wrong in others. He needs us to study ourselves, identify the veins of discontent, root out the pockets of mistrust.
I just got a new pair of prescription glasses for the first time in ten years. When I put them on in the store for the first time and looked in the mirror, I almost wished I hadn’t. I could see all kinds of things I didn’t notice before — grey hairs springing from my crown, fine wrinkles and large pores.
It’s the same way when we look closely at ourselves. We’ll find things that don’t look as good as we thought.
But we love God, so we WILL look. We don’t want to weary him. We want to refresh him with our faith, make him smile!
And the next time we’re tempted to say, “I wish,” or “Why” or “If only,” we’ll strive to remember that God is enough.
Things will go wrong. It will seem like evil prevails. It will seem like we fail. But in God is our complete sufficiency. Let us totally rest in him.