In the Old Testament, God requires the Israelites to choose only certain special animals to offer to Him. He lays out in surprising detail in Leviticus which type of animals they are to pick and which are forbidden. Those that are without spot, blemish or deformity are acceptable. Those that are marred by some sort of issue, however small, are not. God required their best to be offered to Him.
We know from the New Testament that part of this requirement deals with presenting a picture of the Savior to come. A spotless animal offered to God of their behalf pointed to the truly spotless Lamb of God to come, Jesus. The spots or deformity of the animal represented the effects of sin and the fall in the world. God can receive only what is spotless.
I believe that there is another reason God requires perfection in the offerings and spells it out so clearly. He knows people’s hearts all too well.
If a farmer is left with a choice to offer to God the perfect, spotless and more valuable lamb or the little, sickly lamb that is worth very little, what is the temptation for that farmer? They would be tempted to offer the least valuable animal and the ones left over after the family is fed and the mortgage paid rather than their prize sheep. The pride of the flock would be protected while the weak and worthless sacrificed. Selfish hearts would want to first take care of themselves and their desires and then offer the excess and the unwanted to the Lord. As people, we tend to want to keep the best only for ourselves.
Giving away anything is hard on our flesh. Sacrificing what is most valuable, our prized possession is harder, but it is good for us if it is given to God. Our wicked self-involved flesh dies a bit more every time we offer up what we value to the Lord.
So God leaves no room for argument or lawyering. He says give Him the best of the flock every time not what was left over. He is the Lord after all. Everything belongs to Him anyway, He deserves our best.
Though we are not required to offer lambs or cattle, our temptation is still the same. We want to keep the best of our stuff for ourselves. We seek to take care of our needs and desires first and leave to God what is left over in time, money, love and resources. We rationalize that the baseball game is on now, there will be plenty of time pray after it is over. We can employ reasonable man-centered logic and say that our savings account is low, we will give to God when we get that back up to my comfort level. It makes sense on a human level, but it is not putting God first.
Just like with the sacrificial animals, God says give me your best and your first. He says to show Him through our actions what we value the most, Him or stuff. He is the Lord our God.
It is He after all who refused to hold back what He cared about the most, His Son Jesus and offered Him up for us. How can we do any different with what little we have to offer?
Are we giving Him our best time, love, conversation, money and, well, our best everything? If we do, we will never be disappointed! Why? He is the Lord our God and even our very best stuff pales in comparison to what He has to offer.