I love giving gifts (ok – I love receiving them too!) so I love the Christmas season. There is so much more joy in giving than receiving! (yes – that’s in the Bible). In the midst of giving and receiving gifts, think about this – Would you intentionally give someone a gift you knew was defective or broken? Or let me rephrase it: You’re dating someone very special (they might be the one!); would you give them a gift at Christmas that you knew was defective or broken? Probably not. Now, would you take a minute to read these words from Malachi 1:6-9 NLT
6 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! “But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’ 7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. “Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ “You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. 8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
When I read this a couple days ago in my time alone with God it made me think again about what I give to God. He loves me so much He gave me the greatest gift – grace/forgiveness/eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. No one has ever loved me like God does. The people in Malachi’s day were giving God their left-overs; the crippled, blind, defective animals instead of the best that they had. How often do we do the same thing; not with animals (we’re free from those kinds of sacrifices), but with our time, talents & treasure? Do we give God our left-overs / the defects?
Maybe the reason so many believers don’t experience God’s mercy and favor in greater abundance is their failure to honor Him with the best they have. In fact, too many Believers are like the people described in Malachi 1:12-14.
12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. 13 You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!
I hope these words are not true of you, but if they are you can change it. We’re about to start a new year; why not make a fresh commitment to Christ to give Him your best. Make the choice to:
a) honor Him with your actions,
b) don’t turn up you nose at His commands saying they’re too hard – instead turn your heart & mind toward His commands and obey,
c) fulfill past vows you’ve made (including those you’ve made to building campaigns etc),
d) give the best of your talents to God by serving Him at your church in some way,
e) give Him the best of your time; spend time alone with Him every day & make being active in church a habit, and
f) give Him the best of your treasure – the first part of everything you make/have.