You embarrass me by offering worthless food on my altar. Then you ask, “How have we embarrassed you?” You have done it by saying, “What’s so great about the LORD’s altar?”
But isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are blind, crippled, or sick? Just try giving those animals to your governor. That certainly wouldn’t please him or make him want to help you. I am the LORD God All-Powerful, and you had better try to please me. You have sinned. Now see if I will have mercy on any of you.Â Â Â Â Malachi 1:7-9 (CEV)
God gave very specific, detailed instructions to His children about offerings. He â€˜spelled it outâ€™ on what is pleasing to Him, acceptable to Him. The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy seem to go on and on and on and on about these various related subjects. But apparently, the Israelites had forgotten the parameters! No, I donâ€™t think they had really forgotten. They had just convinced themselves that God would be okay with whatever they had leftover. They had deceived themselves into thinking that God couldnâ€™t really want them to give the best they had and use it for their offering. It would be okay to use the best for their parties to impress others and give God the leftover, diseased animal that wasnâ€™t good enough for anything else!
One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
“This is the most important,” Jesus answered:
Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, The Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher! You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more [important] than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer. Â Â Mark 12:28-34 (HCSB)
Jesus is very clear to me about what is the best offering to God. It would be easy for me to read His commands and translate that into loving those who are lovable or easy to love. But wouldnâ€™t that be much like giving God my leftovers? Itâ€™s easy to love those who love me or who are kind to me and others. God wants me to give my best and for me that means that I have to put forth extra effort and love those who are on God’s heart. God is asking me for my best to be given first for Him. He gives me all the grace and patience I need and it is that best that I have to give away.
It is summer and time for many people who will get together with lots of food and family, friends and new acquaintances. It is a time for me to carry God’s love to all without counting how much I receive. There are so many out there in the parks, the beach, backyards, and anywhere else God directs my feet, who are starving for a free handout of God’s unconditional love. I can carry that that free gift to God’s children. What an offering from my heart to God’s!