You have, no doubt, been struck with that emphatic passage in the last book of the Old Testament prophets in which Jehovah expostulates with His people. He says, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me" (Mal. 3:8). Does it not seem to you an extraordinary expression — robbing God? And it certainly is so; yet it nevertheless was the truth. The Jews had appropriated to their own use the tithes and offerings that were Jehovah's by right. The portions of the priests and Levites, prescribed by the law (Num. 18:8-24), were not forthcoming. It was a grave omission on the part of the Jews; more, they were defrauding God wilfully. The priests and Levites were the direct sufferers, but the Lord counted it an offence against Himself. Whatever they themselves may have thought of their ways, such was God's view.
Now, I have no doubt you are wondering what all this has to do with the subject named at the head of this letter. At first sight you may suppose there is no connection; but I believe that there is a common principle, and that you may profit by considering it.
There is no intention of saying much regarding the Lord's Supper itself. The thought before me is simply concerning what is due to the Lord when eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him.
In Malachi, the question was as to flocks and herds, corn, wine, and oil, and such temporal offerings. And, by the way, we should not forget that the Lord has His rights in respect of our temporal possessions too. We are His, and all we have is His; and the portion we devote to His service should prove that we believe this truth. But, putting that matter aside now, let us think of the hour or so we spend, at the oftenest, I suppose, once a week, in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus in His death. Suppose it to be an hour; do you realise that the hour is His?
Be very sincere and practical with yourself. Take occasion to sit down quietly and examine yourself as to whether, when you are at the Lord's table, the hour spent there is His in the most absolute sense of the word, or whether you rob Him of it, or any part of it. I do not speak of what is even more serious — of staying away from the table without any justification but while there, is the Lord Jesus the engrossing object of your every thought?
Surely none of you can think that it is sufficient for you to sit in your place and join in what is audible? What about the heart? What about the thoughts? How do you fill up the silences? Is the Lord Himself before you continually, and the Father's love too? They are precious, golden moments when we are so gathered with the Lord in the midst. Every one of them is the Lord's. "In remembrance of Me" are His words. Will you rob Him of those holy moments, or even of one of them?
You recollect the solemn scene in Gethsemane, when the Lord took with Him the favoured trio, Peter, James and John, into the shadows of the garden, and said unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here and watch with Me." It was such a touching request. And we feel sure they meant to obey. The blessed Lord went a little farther and fell on his face, and prayed "with strong crying and tears," concerning the awful cup before Him. He returned to His disciples, but found them asleep. It seemed such a little thing for Him to ask them to watch with Him; yet it was denied Him. He "looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but found none." Ah! who shall tell the feelings of that lonely Man of Sorrows, as He had to say to those who had even seen Him in the mount of transfiguration, "What! could ye not watch with me one hour"? (Matt. 26:40) Why did they rob Him of that hour, the last He would spend with them before being delivered into the hands of sinful men?
Is it possible that to any of you an hour seems too long a time to be thinking of Him? I beseech you to be very jealous over the affections of your hearts at such times. Do not allow anything to supplant the person of the Lord before your soul. In He not worthy? Think of His Godhead. Think of His love. Think of His sorrow. Think of His glory. Think of His shame. Think of the spitting, the scourging. Think of the thorns, the nails, the spear. Think of the blackness of the darkness, and the dust of death. One hour! If one hour be too long for you now, what will you do on high in the presence of the Lamb that was slain? One hour out of every one hundred and sixty-eight too much for your "wandering mind "! Alas, if it be so!
But I am not your judge, my young friends. You should be your own (1 Cor. 11:28). It is however easy through unwatchfulness to slip into such careless ways. May the Lord preserve us all.