Written by Brad Caldwell on Jan. 29, 2017.
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another:” – Mal. 3:16a
Comradery – a spirit of kinship or friendship – is seen here to be a natural outcome of faith. The idea that we have each other’s backs – that we are a group whose unity is only fortified by our adversaries – is more or less taken for granted in passages like these.
“And the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him” – Mal. 3:16b
Perhaps the best instance of this that comes to mind is the friendship between David and Jonathan: “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam. 18:1). It wasn’t just any friendship – it was friendship centered around a common understanding of who God is and what He is like.
A modern example is a college friendship between Tait and McKeehan – again centered around a shared love of God – which no doubt was how their band, dc Talk, ended up becoming the most influential Christian band of the 90s.
“For them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” – Mal. 3:16c
It’s not unity alone, but unity around a Gospel of grace; unity around spiritual reality.
“And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” – Mal. 3:17
God sees individuals who desire and aspire for such an ideal as “jewels” – they are beautiful in His sight: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)!
“Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” – Mal. 3:18
While Christianity is certainly a religion of the heart, it is not a religion of ignorance. There is no premium on refusing to “love the LORD your God with all your…mind” (Luke 10:27). Of course, literally, this passage just means to love God with all your ability, but just to be a little bit wooden, part of your ability is the mind God blessed you with.
Fruit of faith in Christ, and of the exhibition of kindness towards one another, is discernment.
Now, by discernment is not meant that we should nit-pick our fellow believers, or anyone else. Neither is it meant that we should be implacable (unwilling to forgive) if someone has “stumbled seriously.”
The vitriol expressed by many conservatives towards the moral failings of liberals (and vice versa), and the unwilliness to forgive if someone should repent, could not be farther from the discernment spoken of here.
No, Biblical discernment is the kind that Jesus exercised. It led Him to forgive the adulterous woman, and to rail against the pious religionists of His day, who not only were inconsistent, but had horrible attitudes.
When the Bible speaks of discernment, it simply means being in accord with God’s reality.
God first says that right is right, and wrong is wrong (Isa. 5:20). He also says that He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9).
When it comes to hot issues of the day like refugees, it can be easy to jump to a conclusion. While we want to be loving, we sometimes need to take a little time to study all the details of a case.
Did the failures of liberalism create the crisis in the first place by trying to topple Assad via arming so-called moderate “freedom fighters” who were actually fighting against the people of Syria, and even engaged in beheading Christians and children(*, **)? Might some radicalized individuals want to game the opportunity of being a “refugee” to get into America (“the Great Satan,” as we are called) and commit terror?
If Trump has said he is giving priority to the refugees who are Christian or who have actually been targeted the most for persecution in their former countries, isn’t that a good thing? Why did Obama discriminate against the Christians, and show no heart towards them? Why didn’t everybody gather at JFK airport to protest Obama’s rejection of Christian refugees? Why didn’t people protest much more loudly about Obama doing what he did in Syria?
It’s easy to get manipulated. And it’s disheartening when professed “holiness” people become ensnared by Satan in siding with extreme, liberal notions. Good water and bad water can’t flow from the same source (James 3:11).
It may very well be that some sincere people get hurt by the policies of Trump. And no human leader is perfect. But it pays to look at the big picture, or at least hold back on railing against people who have spent hours upon hours looking into getting accurate details, and who have reached a conclusion that appears “uncaring.” What if God sees the ones being called “uncaring” as actually the ones trying the most to help?
Additional support for “Thoughts on Malachi 3:16-18”:
**Cheri Berens lives in Egypt and has a lot of information on the subject.