There is a principle found throughout the Bible concerning our giving to the Lord. The principle is very simple: you must give your best. When it came to animals that were sacrificed, here are the instructions God gave the Israelites.
“You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the Lord or give them to the Lord as a food offering on the altar” (Leviticus 22:20-22 ESV).
The animals that were sacrificed, whether bulls, sheep or goats (Leviticus 22:19) had to be perfect and therefore free from any defects. God even specified that the animals couldn’t be blind, disabled, mutilated, have sores, or any other problems (see Leviticus 22:23-25). Why did God have to go into such great detail over a simple command?
God, obviously, knew what people are like. If you had a diseased or defective animal, it was of no value to you. What do we do with it? We will give it to God because there is no profit in it for us. Later in Israel’s history, this is exactly what they were doing!
“When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 1:8 ESV).
God does not accept what is worthless from his people. Even the word “sacrifice” implies that this has cost us something. In English, this word has as one of its meanings “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy” (Oxford Dictionary of English). If we are making a sacrifice there is a price involved.
But what about Christians today? Although we are not commanded to kill animals in our worship of God, there are sacrifices we are called to make.
The first thing that would come to most of our minds is our monetary giving on Sunday. Although in 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8-9 Paul is writing about a specific collection for famine relief in Jerusalem, we do find principles concerning giving.
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 ESV).
Our monetary giving is to be a free-will offering and it is to be given cheerfully. But notice as well that there is to be thought behind it – we must give as we have planned in our heart. The idea we find is not to give our leftovers, but to plan what we can give. This would apply to all areas of our giving: our time, our possessions, our lives.
God has so richly blessed us. But our blessings are to be used to help others. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV).
Don’t give the leftovers from our lives. Plan to give the very best in all that we do. In this way, we give glory to God.
Readings for next week:
23 January – Leviticus 21
24 January – Leviticus 22
25 January – Leviticus 23
26 January – Leviticus 24
27 January – Leviticus 25:1-28