Imagine your loved one giving you a Christmas gift that looked as though it took him or her three minutes to throw together. There was no effort put into getting your gift, no cost or value, no sacrifice of time or resources. Now if it’s your two-year old child doing so, that is cute and heart-warming. If it is your spouse, then you’d be in a heap of trouble.
So why do we give such ungrateful gifts to the Lord our God? Why do we give Jesus the scraps from our table when we’re finished with the day? In some cases, we don’t even do that. The reason is we don’t love our Lord enough. We express our love to one another in the sacrifices we make for each other. To do otherwise is to be guilty of the same sullied sacrifices for which the Prophet Malachi confronted Israel:
“You offer defiled food on My altar, but say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably? says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:7-8)
This was not the first time nor would it be the last that the Lord God had to deal with sullied sacrifices from His people. The first occasion was the first murder case of mankind:
“Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:4-5)
As you continue reading Genesis 4, you find that God confronts Abel about his unrighteous anger, warning him that “sin lies at the door” waiting for Abel to act upon it. And yet, Abel continues in his anger and kills his righteous brother in a jealous rage. Man has been pulling weeds out of his garden ever since.
We not only offer God unworthy sacrifices, but we also offer unlawful sacrifices. God clearly outlined in the Levitical law how sacrifices were to be brought to the altar. When we take it upon ourselves to write our own bibles, we will always break God’s commandments.
King Saul was promised by Samuel that his throne would be established forever if he followed the Lord. However, because Samuel was missing and Saul got impatient waiting on God’s man, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Sound familiar?
So how does God usually respond to our sad attempts to replace Him? He calls us fools:
“And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly.’” (1 Samuel 13:13a)
Somehow we’ve come to the point in America that if our intentions are seemingly good (and at their core they are not), we think the outcome is acceptable. We’ve deluded ourselves into believing that our excuses carry weight with God.
The easiest way to get yourself free from such delusion is to search the Scriptures for the truth. If our hearts are wicked, we should not believe that the Lord would accept any sacrifice from us nor hear our prayers:
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” (Proverbs 15:8)
What God desires of us is a heart of gratitude. He wants our devotion. He wants us to commit our hearts wholly unto Jesus. He sacrificed His only begotten Son and He never wants us to forget His ultimate sacrifice. That is why He desires the best from us. It shows our true thanksgiving for our Savior.
This is not a selfish desire of Almighty God. He desires to bless us and hear our prayers so that He can pour out His love upon us. It is with pure hearts and motives that God hears us:
“Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:14-15)
Did you catch that? God is glorified by His blessing our lives because we are a testimony to His goodness and sovereignty.
Instead of bringing sullied sacrifices to the Lord, let us bring Him generous gifts of our time, resources, and most importantly, our love.
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Copyright © 2016 David Jeffers