For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction.
During Malachi’s day, the priests were not doing their jobs. God was angry with how they used their lips. Let’s see if there’s something we can learn and apply today.
The priest’s lips were supposed to:
- Guard knowledge
- Instruct the people
Instead, the priests themselves had turned aside from God’s command, being a negative example to the people. Right knowledge or instruction wasn’t on their lips. Therefore, the people stumbled. God held the priests accountable.
A modern-day equivalent of a priest would be a pastor (in the Anglican denomination, the term priest is still used but not the Roman Catholic sense). A pastor’s lips are important to guard knowledge and provide godly instruction to his people. If wrong teachings are given from the pulpit, wrong living will result. Your people will stumble in their sins, thinking everything is okay.
The pastor is the guardian of knowledge and instructor of godly living. If he doesn’t do his role well, his people will be in peril. As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” How a pastor is like, the people will be like. The priest or pastor has great influence over the masses and thus God would hold them to greater accountability. Having a greater influence cuts both ways. You can influence more for good and, also more for bad. James, the half-brother of Jesus asserts that:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
We have a responsibility to speak God’s words faithfully, instructing people correctly in godly living. That’s how we honour God. How’s your lips today?