Malachi 1: Repenting for Doubting God’s Love and Withholding Our Best.

The earliest days of the Church were filled with doubt and difficulty. Because of the intense persecution believers faced, it was not uncommon for those in the Church to fall away and succumb to the pressure to either compromise or outright deny their faith. But what happened to those who wished to rejoin the Church? How did the Church know they were genuine? The Church wrestled with these questions for decades and over time, the 40 days preceding Easter developed into a time of repentance, renewal, and restoration—a season we call Lent.

The Book of Malachi is a wonderful, yet difficult, book to consider as we move towards the season of repentance and renewal we call Lent. Malachi was a prophet and contemporary of Nehemiah, the great Jewish leader who led God’s people to rebuild Jerusalem and return to whole-hearted worship of God. In Malachi, we find God’s people in a state of spiritual lethargy. The restoration of Israel’s fortunes foretold by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah have failed to materialize, and they’ve begun to doubt God. They’ve become cynical in their faith and their worship. Their doubt of God’s love and faithfulness makes them begrudge giving God anything, let alone their best. They become so spiritually disconnected that even as they withhold their hearts from God, they question why He isn’t blessing them.

The sin of the Israelites in Malachi’s day is the same sin of Adam and Eve in the garden and the same sin we struggle with today—doubting God. In tempting Eve, Satan says, “Did God really say?” When we boil it all down, sin is at its core doubting God. We doubt God’s goodness. We doubt God’s plan. We doubt God’s promise that He will provide everything we need. And, that doubt may even lead us to doubt His very existence. If this doubt doesn’t lead us that far, it certainly leads us to a place of withholding. If we doubt God, then we have to hold back from Him what is rightfully His, because we don’t trust Him to handle it properly. We believe the lie that we can manage our lives better than God can.

The cure for this debilitating sin in our lives is the clarion call of Malachi—repentance. The root word for repentance in Scripture means “to turn.” Thus, it is not enough for us to merely stop the offensive behavior; we must change our direction so that we are not going the same way. Though there is repentance that leads to salvation, it is more than that. It is an attitude that we must assume daily. The gospel is not just for salvation—it is the guide for our daily lives. Our sin nature is constantly pulling us in the wrong direction. Accordingly, we must constantly be evaluating and changing our course to match the gospel through an attitude of repentance.

As we look towards this season of Lent and this series on Malachi, let me encourage you to open your heart to be examined by God. Let Him shine the light of the gospel into those areas of your life where you doubt Him. Be open to turning over to God those areas you have been withholding from Him.


1. Have there even been seasons in your life where your worship was cynical or half-hearted? How did you make it out of that season? What drew you back to God?

2. In Malachi 1, the prophet condemns the people for feigning generosity while withholding their best from God. How do we do that today? Is it possible to be stingy with God while appearing generous?

3. Are there areas of your life where you tend to doubt God? What has caused that doubt? How can you address that doubt?