God has always set aside a select group to carry forth His Word and to help guide His people. In the Old Testament times God designated the descendants of Levi to be priests. The priests were to perform the various sacrifices, give instruction regarding God's Law, and be the general interface between God and man. Since the priests were accountable to God for maintaining His standard, this great privilege also carried an enormous responsibility.
Malachi served as a prophet of God approximately 900 years after the Levitical priesthood had been established. The priests had once held a deep reverence for God, but they now ceased to teach the truth and lost all sense of their calling. Through Malachi, God sent the priests a sharp rebuke.
"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 not followed My ways."
In one regard, this speaks directly to those called into Church leadership - those who are given the responsibility for leading a congregation in the way of truth. But it also speaks to ALL who now believe in Jesus Christ and are committed to following His ways. We must not cause others to stumble by failing to follow the ways of God!
When Jesus came to earth and gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, a new covenant was established. No longer is there only a select group of priests who have access to God; rather, all believers are now declared "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9).
The primary duty of a priest in the Old Testament was to seek God's will and effectively communicate the truth of God's Word to those placed within his care. And as members of God's New Covenant royal priesthood, we all have this same responsibility - this same privilege! We must seek His will and speak truth to whoever God places in our path. We do not have the option of watching others wander from God. Allowing someone to destroy their life and their intimate relationship with God through a life of unbelief and sin is neither gracious nor loving - it's cruel and irresponsible!
We are never held accountable for the response of others, only for our presentation of the truth. We must now become faithful to our calling. We must become a priest within our family, at our work, among our friends, and even within our church. We must diligently seek His will and not stray. We must learn His truths and live by them...and speak His truth with grace and compassionate love. Let's give thanks for the opportunity to serve and for being allowed to lead others to a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father. Let's praise Him and faithfully accept our privileged responsibility.