Written by Peter Blanch
It’s hard to ignore all the disastrous situations across the world at the moment. From the troubles in Gaza and Syria, to flight MH17 in Ukraine, and the Ebola Crisis in West Africa. Ebola is a contagious disease with a high (60-90%) mortality rate and no known cure. You can imagine how hard it is to find medical personnel to treat those infected with this disease.
What is heartwarming is that christians are willing to stand and help the sick regardless of the threat to their own health. SIM (Serving in Mission) workers Nancy Writebol and Kent Brantly have been helping those infected with Ebola – and in the process they have contracted the disease themselves. Both Nancy and Kent chose to serve God in Africa as missionaries – at great personal cost to themselves and their families. This choice of theirs may well result in their deaths. Would you be prepared to give as they have given in the service of our great God? Do you give of your best to God, or does God merely get the “leftovers”?
In Youth Group over the last few weeks we have been looking at the Old Testament book of Malachi. God is speaking to his people – particularly the leaders of his people, and pointing out to them how they have become complacent in their attitude towards Him. You see it in these verses:
“A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ “You place defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled 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.
God’s people are sacrificing their leftovers to God. The blind, crippled and diseased animals. They are not giving God their best – they keep the best for themselves and give him whatever is leftover. This is clearly against the requirements of God’s Law [Leviticus 22:22]
God is their master and he deserves respect, but the fact of the matter is that they treat their local governor better than they treat God. God says to them “try offering that to your governor … would he accept you?” The priests know that he wouldn’t – there is no way any of them would take a defective animal to their Governor. So why would they offer it to God? This behaviour is disrespectful and hypocritical. It’s just going through the motions when their hearts are not in it.
And God hates it. He would rather not have the sacrifice than have to put up with a half-hearted effort. [Malachi 1:10]
But we don’t offer up sheep’s and goats and bulls to God any more. We are not under the sacrificial system. Because God freed us from the requirements of the law when he offered up his Son Jesus as the one perfect and acceptable sacrifice for sin. Our sacrifice has been made once and for all by Jesus, to make us acceptable to God. But since Jesus gave his life for us – what are we to give him in return?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God– this is your spiritual act of worship.
God didn’t give us his leftovers in Jesus. God gave us his very best. Jesus gave his life for you, and in view of His mercy, God wants your whole life to honour Him. Not your leftovers, but your whole life. How do you feel about this? Do you think you are already giving God your whole life? Are you already giving God your best? Let’s think about it together and be challenged by the following questions:
- What are you actually offering to God?
- The bits of time you can spare?
- The bits of money you can do without?
- When you think about the future, where does God fit into your plans?
- What time do you give to prayer?
- Where does reading and thinking about God’s word fit into your day?
- Does spending time with God’s people take first or last priority in your week?
- Are you honouring God in the way you work / study?
- How much would you give up to be able to share Jesus with your friend?
- Could you provide evidence of how you give God your best – in your diary, in your bank statement, in your plans for the future?
Our God is worthy of all glory and honour and power. He has shown us incredible grace and mercy in Jesus – and He will continue to show us grace and mercy even when we fail to honour him as we should.
But in response to the perfect sacrifice that Jesus has made on our behalf – it is time to stop giving God the leftovers of our lives. I’m not saying we should all give up our jobs and head to West Africa to nurse those dying from the Ebola virus. But our lives here in Wagga must show plainly that we are giving God our best, and not our leftovers.