When you take the position of priest, minister, or any spiritual leader, you are taking on a huge responsibility. People trust you. They listen to you. Leaders should look to their work and themselves as nearly perfect. They won’t reach perfection, but they need to keep themselves above reproach. They need to strive to avoid scandal and shame.
The spiritual leaders who do not approach it with humility and seriousness, face huge repercussions. God was not expecting perfection in any of these people, but He did expect a true, loving heart. Only such a heart can be taught and grow toward perfection.
“And now this admonition is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me. (Malachi 2:1–2 NIV)
Sounds pretty serious! Many people don’t understand what it means to listen. Listening involves more than just hearing noises and nodding in response. It involves processing what is said and acting accordingly. God wants you to LISTEN to Him, not just hear Him. When you listen, you need to direct your path towards bringing honor to His name. That means walking in His light and down the path He calls you. When you don’t listen, you are bringing certain disasters on yourself. That could come in many forms.
“Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the LORD Almighty. “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. (Malachi 2:3–6 NIV)
Boy, these are harsh words, but it is serious business. You have to understand what was going on at this time in the priesthood when these were words were conveyed. These priests were refusing to preach God’s Word correctly. They were willing to say anything to please the powerful and the masses. They were allowing the rich and powerful to get away with horrid sins. They were allowing illegal activities within the priesthood to flourish. Years later, when God physically walked in the temple, He punished the sinners and ran them out of the temple. This is extremely important to Him. Truth is required from the spiritual leaders’ mouths. When it is not, only bad things happen.
Though the priests (or ministers) of today are not descendants from Levi, it does not excuse them. A spiritual leader appointed by God still follows the same order. The only difference is that if you were born in the tribe of Levi, you knew from birth what your calling was. The men of God today are called upon with the same responsibilities but not through their bloodlines. They are called in their heart and soul by God.
“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction — because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty. “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.” (Malachi 2:7–9 NIV)
Words from a spiritual leader should contain the wisdom and correction that people need in their lives. They might not want to hear the words, but they are what is needed at that time. A spiritual leader is one that others should seek out and inquire for guidance and confirmation. But when the words are not those of God, punishment is severe.
We have seen spiritual leaders lie, steal, cheat, and mislead others. We have seen them embrace sin and make excuses. It is on the news nearly everyday around the world. Their actions have cast all spiritual leaders in a negative light. We don’t trust them. We feel they are out to exploit us all. That is why God directed all who follow him to have a pure heart and live in his word.
Are you a spiritual leader? Are you sure that you are walking in the Word correctly? Whether you feel like you are or not, take a walk through Proverbs and a walk through Timothy. Be wise and verify your stance on issues before uttering anymore potentially, incorrect words. This is not a game. It could be eternal.