Read Malachi 3 today.

Malachi 3:1-5 NLT[1] “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. [2] “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. [3] He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. [4] Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past. [5] “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
As I was reading this today, I kept thinking of the people who had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the LORD. It seems they were convinced of their own ‘goodness’, and that the judgment of God would be by self assessment. They believed they would be fine as long as they could say of themselves, “I am basically a good person.”
They were wrong.
They, and we, are judged against God’s standard, not our subjective standard. In that assessment, we do not measure up. This is why we need God’s grace. This is why we need God to take the first step toward us with the gift we have not earned and do not deserve.
Jesus came to make an exchange. He accepted the penalty we deserve when we do not measure up to God’s standard. In exchange, we receive the life He deserved for His pure and Holy life. God’s choice is to make us the offer of the exchange. Our choice is whether or not we will accept it.