The standard of service or ministry we render to the Lord (both individually and collectively) is a reflection of our estimation of God, a reflection of how much we regard Him.
In Malachi 1:6 God asks the priests of that time a very poignant question:
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name….
God’s lament was directed at the priests who, interestingly enough, did not fail in their duties as such – they were still conducting public worship, they were still offering sacrifices. It was the attitude they approached it with and the standard they failed to uphold that caused God the greatest sadness – to the point where He wished they would stop altogether (Malachi 1:10).
God was dishonoured by the service they rendered to Him. The priests of Malachi’s time were casual and could not care less about the service they gave to God in His house. They failed to uphold the standard and quality of public worship God requested and deserved. There was a laid back, lackadaisical approach to the service of God and their responsibility in public worship. God called them out for this perfunctory, tired and could-not-care-less attitude that was demonstrated in their ministry. And the underlying cause was a lack of respect for God, a lack of desire to honour Him and an absence of fear for who He is. As a result, they looked down upon their ministry considering it a nuisance and a bother when it was an honour.
But you say, What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.
They disrespected it by disregarding the rules and instructions surrounding His service and encouraging others to do likewise by their acceptance of unacceptable sacrifice, imperfect animals that God had clearly communicated He will not be pleased with. They turned a blind eye by their, “I could not care less” or “not bothered” attitude. This casual approach and careless attitude towards their service to God and responsibility to His people, as those appointed by and representing God, were just symptoms of an inner malaise or condition – lack of honour and fear of God.
God’s anger here was not directed at the general public but at the priests, those who were meant to represent Him before the people, those whom he tasked with the responsibility of leading and directing, instructing and teaching the rest of the people. It was these people God was angry with, it was them who lacked the basics that God expected from those who serve Him. The position of servant or priest was a position of responsibility and influence. They undermined that position.
It follows then that how we, as ministers and servants in the house of God, approach our worship and ministry to God are indicators of our respect and honour of God and how much we fear (have reverential respect for) Him. What we allow and accept as permissable in our service of God (esp within the setting of corporate service and worship) are reflective of our attitudes towards God Himself.
Our fear and honour of God are demonstrated in the value and respect with which we approach our ministry and service to Him – both individually and collectively as a body.