Cold Leftovers for the Guest of Honor?
Have you ever had someone special in your home for dinner? If you could spend the evening hosting anyone in the world you wanted to, who would it be? What lengths would you go to in order to make the evening special for them? Would you have the meal catered by a professional chef? Would you slave all day to prepare a gourmet dinner? Or…would you just pull out a Tupperware of leftover spaghetti and slap it on a T.V. tray for them? Of course you’d never dream of doing that! If you had someone important over for dinner you’d go all out to show them how honored you were to share the evening with them. Unfortunately, even though we’d never feed someone important our old leftovers, a lot of times that’s what we give God. In fact the Bible talks about some Jews who were trying to offer Him the “leftovers” in their sacrifices:
“You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’ “But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts…But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,” says the Lord of hosts, “and My name is feared among the nations.” (Malachi 1:7-8, 14)
Rather than offering God the very best of their flock (cf. Lev. 1:10), they were giving Him the weak and blind animals. These were the animals they didn’t want anyways, and they thought God would be pleased if they sacrificed them to Him. God rebukes them because they would never consider giving these animals to their earthly governors, yet they tried to pawn them off on the “great King” of the universe. God called these sacrifices “evil.” Since they weren’t offering God their very best not only did God reject their sacrifices, He cursed them. As Christian’s, God has called us to offer Him sacrifices too:
“you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
God doesn’t accept just any old sacrifices from us; He demands that they be “acceptable” by His standards. Just like in days of Malachi, God still requires our very best.
Do you typically:
Give more money to McDonald’s or your favorite clothing store than to God each week?
Devote more time raising awareness for an earthly charity than in winning souls to Christ?
Sing more passionately while listening to the radio than when you’re worshiping God?
Devote more time to a television program than to studying God’s word?
Spend more time talking about politics than you do talking to God in prayer?
Dress your best at work or on a date but come worship Him like you just rolled out of bed?
If that describes you…you may be committing the same “evil” that God rebuked the Jews for in Malachi’s day (cf. Mal. 1:8).
But someone might argue, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Well, it’s true that just because something looks good on the outside, that doesn’t mean it’s pleasing to God on the inside. However, Jesus says that whatever’s in our heart will be reflected in our outward actions/appearance (Matthew 15:18-20). If our heart is truly 100% dedicated to pleasing and glorifying God, then we’ll never offer Him anything but our very best. If we want God to be pleased with us, we must show Him He’s number One.