When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will He accept you?” – says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 1:8-9)
When you go to a friend's house. Do you expect them to serve you (A) a fresh meal cooked from scratch or at least food just bought back from outside, or (B) their leftovers from the day before? I think the answer is pretty clear in most cases.
How about this? Imagine hosting an important person for the night – perhaps a high-ranking politician or even a famous movie star. It's a privilege that they've given you the chance to host them. Now, would you serve them the leftovers from the day before? Or would you make sure to give them the utmost best? If you haven't already caught onto what I'm trying to say, let me lay it clear for you then. If we can intuitively treat important people with respect and are grossed out ourselves with the leftovers of others, why do we offer leftovers to the One who created the entire universe?
You'd think we'd have more sense in our heads than to give someone that powerful and influential the scraps from our plate. Just try to imagine asking any other important figure or anyone for that matter to lick your plate like you would your pet dog.
The verses today come from Malachi and they reveal something about the worship back then. The priests were becoming increasingly practical in the most erroneous of ways. Sacrificing blind animals as offerings, shutting the temple doors so that the fires at the altar would be snuffed out for practical purposes, etc.
We can look at them and say, “Wow they really did not know what they were doing”. Yet we can be the same at times. When we are giving to the poor whether through time or money, as has been asked of us in Christ, what do we give? Do we just drop our loose change into the contribution bag? Or do we perhaps look at our schedule and wonder whether we have time to spare?
How about prayer and reading the Bible? Is that even a priority for us? Have we filled our schedules to the brim only to remember, “Oh I need to dedicate some time to God”, and assign the last dregs of our time to God? Do we leave leftovers to God, crumbs that we sometimes forget about in our busy schedules and exhaustion, and then sweep away?
You wouldn't treat someone who hadn't done anything for you that way if you had the least amount of respect for that person. Yet we treat the one who has given us literally everything and then some more through Christ with utter contempt.
I know I've been guilty of it before. But having listened to sermons and reflected on my priorities, I now make sure I place God at the center of my priorities. Everything else revolves around that. I set aside money, time and heart, so that I can without an ounce of worry accept what God has blessed me with.
Of course this is not to say you have to just sacrifice, sacrifice and sacrifice. God wants a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Does it feel like a sacrifice if you're treating someone who has done a lot for you to a meal? Does it feel like a sacrifice when you cook for your loved ones? God doesn't need pointless sacrifices, but He does want your all.
Jesus said to love the Lord with ALL our heart, strength and mind. So today, are we giving God our leftovers or are we giving God our best?
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections.