“When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. [Malachi 1:8-9 (NLT)]

blue flag irisIn Leviticus, Moses laid out God’s law regarding sacrifices—only a perfect animal was acceptable. One thousand years later, in the time of Malachi, the priests allowed people to offer blind, crippled, diseased and even stolen animals as offerings. The Israelites were offering God the animals that were worthless or someone else’s animal entirely. Since, by definition, a sacrifice requires the giving up of something of great value to us, those certainly didn’t qualify as sacrifices. The Israelites, like a dishonest salesperson who substitutes an inferior product for a good one, were actually cheating God.

Abraham understood what it meant to give something valuable to God. When God demanded that he give his only son, the beloved Isaac, as a sacrifice, he obeyed. Fortunately for Isaac, when it was clear that Abraham loved God more than his precious child, God stopped him from completing the sacrifice. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, also understood what it was to give something irreplaceable to God. Unable to have a child, the anguished woman promised the Lord that, if he should bless her with a son, she would give him back to God. Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son called Samuel. When he was three years old, she brought him to Eli the priest and dedicated him to the Lord. Although Samuel later became a prophet and one of the greatest of Israel’s judges, it had to break Hannah’s heart to leave her young son in Eli’s care. Both Abraham and Hannah gave God their most cherished possessions: their sons. Moreover, God gave us His best when He sacrificed His only son for us.

What we offer God reflects our attitude toward him. Do we give Him our best or less? Does He get our gifts first or does He just get our leftovers—whatever remains after we’ve done whatever else we wanted to do? Our time, energy, talent, money and possessions—they all belong to God. He’s just allowing us to use His gifts for a short time while we’re here on earth. He deserves the best we have to offer; after all, it’s His anyway!

Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed – all because you have obeyed me. [Genesis 22:15-18 (NLT)]

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. [Proverbs 3:9-10 (NLT)]

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