That question caught me off guard because I love my daughter very much and in my heart there is absolutely no way I love my iPhone more than Sadie. Not even close. So I probed further.
“Why do you think that,” I asked piously.
Sadie replied, "When I’m doing something, you’re on your phone and not paying attention to me."
"I feel like you want to be with your iPhone more than you want to be with me."
Sadie shared some examples.
She explained that on our daddy-daughter dates and on our walks, I do not give her my full attention. Although I talk to her, I would always look at my iPhone.
Another example Sadie gave is when she ice skates. Sadie often enters the ice skating rink saying, “Watch me daddy.” After watching Sadie skate a few laps, I would look at my iPhone.
This Christmas, Sadie received a bigger bike as a Christmas gift from Julie's parents. As you can expect, Sadie was very excited about her new bike and wanted me to watch her ride it.
Several times after Christmas, I watched Sadie ride her new bike. Sad to say that as I think back--I often found myself looking at my iPhone.
Whether taking laps around the ice skating rink or on her bike in our cul-de-sac, Sadie would glance at me to see if I was paying attention to her.
It became obvious why Sadie felt that I loved my iPhone more than I loved her.
That reality was very convicting.
This made me wonder how often we treat God that way. We give the appearance of being with God when we are really not.
The prophet Malachi addressed those who looked like they were with God but were really not.
In Malachi 1:6-14, God through Malachi rebuked the priests for their disobedience and for not honoring Him.
The priests God addressed through Malachi offered defiled sacrifices. These priests were more concerned about their positions of power and influence over having the right heart before God. They did not take seriously what God required and were content to go through the motions. As these priests tried to maintain a good image, they were cheating God.
God told the priests: “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 1:8)
Offering unacceptable and bad gifts to a governor, a leader, someone we respect, or anyone in general was unthinkable. Giving good gifts showed that the person giving the gift appreciated, respected and honored the one receiving the gift. On the other hand, giving bad and unacceptable gifts were offensive and disrespectful. Giving bad gifts would hurt the chances of maintaining future relationships.
In our time, it is easy to criticize and frown upon the religious leaders during Malachi’s time. But outside of Jesus, we are like them.
Although we no longer sacrifice animals to God, we still struggle with holding back and giving to God what He requires--what He deserves. If this is true, than what does what we bring to God say about what we believe about Him?
Let us consider areas of our lives that help define us—time, talents, gifts, effort, future, and finances. Do we give God our best in these areas or leftovers?
What we give God reveals what we believe about God.
Although our salvation is not based on our works, those who truly know Jesus as Lord and Savior will reflect the Gospel.
How we live should reflect what God is doing in us. From the moment Jesus saves us, our salvation through the Gospel begins in our hearts influences every part of our lives--attitudes, actions, motivation.
As God transforms us and when we truly recognize how small we are and how great God is, we cannot help but worship God in all areas of our lives.
Malachi challenges us to examine the depravity of human nature. On our own, we revert back to sin and rebelliousness to God.
That is why we need Jesus.
When Jesus saves us--when He is truly our Lord and Savior, when we surrender to Him and recognize who He is, we encounter God and see Him as Holy, Almighty, and Glorious.
When we experience true life, fullness, and power found only through Jesus, we cannot help but worship Jesus, love Him passionately and live for Him.
The heart of worship drives us toward greater obedience, which impacts what we say and do. If we are truly walking with Jesus, our natural response would be to love God back and listen to Him.
What a growing Christian does for God will not be based on obligation, church culture, or moralism. Instead, our willingness to live for God and our outward expression of worship to Him come from an inner reality.
When we truly worship God, we will not only give Him our attention but we will also surrender to Him in all areas of our lives. Giving God our attention and following Him become a reflection of the Gospel working its way in and through us.