God Desires Our Finest and our First
In the Old Testament, God requires the best from the Israelites. They were to choose only very special animals to sacrifice to Him. They were to set out the first portion of their crops to God. The Bible lays out in great detail in Leviticus which type of animals they are to pick. Those that are without spot, blemish or deformity are acceptable. Those that are marred in some way, however small, are not. God required their prized animals to be offered to Him.
Part of this lofty standard deals with presenting a picture of the Savior to come. A spotless animal offered to God on their behalf pointed to a better version to come. The sinless Lamb of God to come, Jesus, was the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrifice. The deformity of an animal represented the effects of sin and the fall in the world. God can receive only what is spotless into His presence. So each time the Israelites offered a pure lamb to God to cover their sins it was a representation of the better sacrifice of Jesus.
There is another reason God requires perfection and spells it out so clearly. He knows people’s hearts all too well. We don’t like giving away what is dear to us, even to God.
If a farmer was left with a choice to offer to God his prized very valuable lamb or the little, sickly lamb that is worth very little, what will he be tempted to do? He could very easily justify an offer the least valuable animal. Fallen, weak flesh would struggle with the temptation to just give the animals left over after the family is fed. The mortgage needs to be paid before thinking about giving to God. The pride of the flock would be protected while the weak and worthless sacrificed.
Selfish hearts always take care of themselves first.
It is not throwing stones, just admitting our fallen humanity. We may get around to offering to God if we have excess. The left over and the unwanted usually go 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. Yet, God knows that this is exactly what we need for a great walk with Him. The more we give away from ourselves, the more we get to understand the heart of God. The more we offer to God, the more He gives us. He doesn’t pay us back in the form of money or stuff. Rather, our wicked self-involved flesh dies a bit more every time we offer up what we value to the Lord. It is then replaced by a spirit refined by Jesus Himself.
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 just for us. We seek to take care of our needs 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.
But 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. It is only what He did, after all. It is He 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 God our best? Are we offering our prime time, love, conversation, money and, well, our best everything? If we do, we will never be disappointed! He is the Lord our God and even our very best stuff pales in comparison to what He has to offer.