You know what it feels like. You need help from someone, and he agrees to be there for you. He shows up late, acts tired and bored, and slips away as soon as possible. Even though his body showed up, his heart wasn’t there. Sometimes I wonder how God feels about our service to Him. Do we bring Him joy or is He grieved by our half-heartedness? This morning while reading Exodus, this verse jumped out at me, “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God” (Exodus 23:19). Most Israelites of that day understood the importance of cultivating the soil in order to grow crops. They were dependent on God’s blessing (rain, sunshine, good soil) combined with their hard work. As an act of worship, the people enjoyed the privilege of giving back to God what He had given them. The one stipulation…God wanted the best! Imagine an Israelite man going to the temple and giving the priest an “offering” from his field of rotten fruit and mildewed crops. Would this be accepted? In Genesis 4 we read of Cain who, “brought some of the fruits of the soil as offering to the Lord” (v. 3). While God “looked with favor” on Cain’s brother (Abel), the Bible says, “on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” (v. 5). Many have speculated that God favored Abel’s offering because it involved animals. Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus for our sins. However, the Bible also speaks about offerings of fruit from the ground as something God accepts as well. I believe Cain’s offering was unacceptable because of Cain’s heart. Could it be that Cain gave God the leftovers—the rotten fruit? What does this have to do with me, you may ask? The Lord is the One who gives us everything we have. He also gives us the opportunity to “give back” to Him from His blessings. Do we give God the best of what we have or just the leftovers? For example, we are given the amazing opportunity to pray. Do we pray when our hearts and minds are fresh or do we repeatedly give God a few hurried and tired moments before we collapse at the end of our day? When we are asked to serve by helping someone or assisting in ministry, do we show up late and “sleepwalk” our way through…leaving as soon as we can? When we have opportunity to sing and praise God in worship, do we daydream about other things or consistently show up late? Let’s give God our best! He is worthy of our greatest offerings of time, talent, and treasure. He wants our hearts in our sacrifice and service! May He look with favor on our sacrifice! And, always remember that Jesus was God’s best, given for us!
Pastor Mark Boucher