Giving God My Leftovers
I like to consider myself a “good” Christian. I pray daily, read the Bible, go to church, give my ten percent, lead a small group, and volunteer on an assortment of service teams. If Christendom had a checklist, I’d have all the boxes checked. And that’s enough, right? Not quite.
The other day I opened up my Bible to Malachi (because I like the name and don’t really know much about it). And as the Good Lord normally does through Scripture, I was immediately caught off guard. Malachi, speaking on behalf of God, starts by chastising Israel for giving leftovers as offerings. I’m talking blind and lame livestock. Basically, the bottom of the barrel in the livestock world. While the Israelites were honoring their earthly masters and fathers with great gifts, God was calling them out for doing the bare minimum to honor Him. He goes on to say “For my name will be great among the nations…but you profane it…” (Malachi 1:12)
Ouch. In reading this I realized that I can be just like the Israelites. Though we don’t sacrifice animals or do burnt offerings anymore, I often give him the bottom of the barrel when it comes to my time, talent, and treasures. Instead of giving him the good parts of my schedule or my bank account or my efforts, I give him the bare minimum. Is that a way to treat an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God? No. It’s not. And I defame Him by thinking it’s “good enough” and then giving the better parts to worldly things.
That being said, God doesn’t need any of these things from me. “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe” (Deuteronomy 10:17). He is more than capable of honoring Himself. And since grace is by faith alone and not by works (Ephesians 2:8), none of these things contribute to my salvation. But He most certainly deserves them. Why?
In Malachi, God reminds the Israelites how He has provided for them. “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is not Esau Jacob's brother?’ declares the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob’” (Malachi 1:2). God is a good and gracious Father. He has a long history of providing for the Israelites, and for Noah, for Abraham, for David, Esther, Paul, Peter, and the world. He also has a long history of providing for me (though not always in the ways I thought He would). If anyone deserves the best offerings it is Him.
So why don’t I offer Him my best? A lot of the time it’s because I’m lazy. Other times it’s because I’m selfish. Sometimes it’s because God feels so far away from my day-to-day life that it’s easy to just go through the motions. Out of sight, out of mind, you know? But while I’m obeying him by doing all the checklist things, what God really wants is my heart. He calls to us saying, “my son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). God doesn’t want our THINGS. He wants US.
Though it’s certainly a process, I’m slowly learning to hold my “stuff” loosely. Job is always a good reminder that “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). But provide He will. Just like He provides for the birds of the air, He will provide for me (Matthew 6:26). What’s most important is to honor God in what we do. To give “not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 9:7), but because God has given much to us. He gave us the ultimate gift by sacrificing His son for us even though we don’t deserve it. The least I can do is give Him my best efforts, energies, and possessions. He deserves more than sloppy seconds. He deserves my heart.
Haley Robinson is a partner at The Bridge Montrose.