November 20, 2012

Crappy Offerings and the Pointlessness of Thanksgiving.

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. 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. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord's table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.
(Malachi 1:6-14 ESV)   There's one of those stupid virtual cards kicking around Facebook right now that makes a rather ironic point. This gist of it is that we go berserk trampling over people in order to buy things the day after supposedly giving thanks for what we already have. Normally I enjoy such ironies and might have enjoyed a laugh over it, but I had already read this passage in Malachi earlier that morning. So rather than seeing humor I was bugged by the haunting similarity between Israel 400 BC and America 2012 AD.   The Israelite people are bringing sacrifices that aren't what God wants. Rather than bringing their first fruits, the proverbial cream of the crop, offerings and sacrifices that would display hearts that were grateful to God for what He had given, these people instead bring their junk. They bring the lame and the sick. They see worship as wearisome and a duty. And God flat out rejects it. He calls it evil and pronounces cursing upon those who would bring such a sacrifice before the God of all the universe. It might seem like an over reaction at first, but when we stop to think about it, I think most of us will agree that it is justified. Not only does God deserve their worship based on the simple fact that He is God and deserves the worship of all of His creation, but furthermore He has bestowed special blessing upon Israel. He has called them His own and made them a special nation-and yet they respond like this. Yeah, I think cursing them is pretty reasonable. Discomfort gone.   Except for that inconvenient similarity I mentioned earlier. What do I present to God? In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul tells us that it is reasonable-not extravagent, exceptional, amazing, or above and beyond-simply reasonable, to offer our entire bodies as a living sacrifice to God. The idea being that, considering who God is and what He has done in salvation, you give Him your everything. Not because you are a super-Christian, but because it is the logical thing to do. And yet, how often do we live in what is the logical fashion? The average "Christian" (disclaimer #1: Now, just because a peep calls themself a Christian doesn't mean it's true, so that's gonna skew statistics. But that's what we have to work with.) gives 2% of their income to charity. Not their local church. Just charity. So let's just guesstimate that church giving is in the 1.5% range. The average income in America is over $40,000, but we'll use that for simple math. 1.5% of 40,000 is 600. Six hundred freaking dollars. Divide by 12. That's 50. Fifty bucks a month. So God is roughly as important to us, financially speaking, as a plain Jane cell phone plan or a crappy Dish package. Now, I wonder if God is going to accept that. (disclaimer #2: God and church aren't the same thing. But the church is His bride. Writing in the 3rd century Cyprian said, "He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church for his Mother.") My point is this-what the average person offers God financially is, if you will, an offering of dung. If you think that's a little dramatic, let's check the next chapter in Malachi.   Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. (Malachi 2:3 ESV)   This is hardcore rejection. God not only calls their offerings dung, He says that He will spread it in their faces. The point is this. God wants your heart. He doesn't need your stupid money, but you need to give the money, because where your money is your heart is going to follow (Matthew 6:21). If you aren't giving, it speaks to a heart problem. And this isn't just financial, it also applies to how you use your time, your talents, and the very way in which you structure your life. Money is just an easy one to pick on, and it's obviously important because Jesus talks about money more than anyone else in the Bible does.   So my point is this. Most of us are offering God dung. Most of the "thanks" we throw up on Thanksgiving, most of the Sunday mornings sat in church when we're zoning out wishing we weren't there, and that spare change we toss in the plate because that's "all we can afford" is just dung in God's eyes that will be rubbed in our faces in the long run. It's been said (if I knew who said it I'd give them credit) that if it doesn't mean anything to you it won't mean anything to God. That's an ouch statement. The personal application question is this-are you among the many? Are you offering crap to God?

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com