First Fruits or Leftovers?

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I’m reading an amazing book right now called “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.  I usually only have time to read a couple of pages before I have to get ready for work.  Yesterday, the section I read was entitled “Offering Leftovers.”

Malachi 1:8 says, “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.”  Francis Chan comments on this verse: “they assumed God was pleased because they sacrificed something [but] leftovers are not merely inadequate…they’re evil.  Let’s stop calling it ‘a busy schedule’ or ‘bills’ or ‘forgetfulness.’ It’s evil.”  When I read Malachi 1:8, I focused on the sentence: “try offering them to your governor!”  We know to offer our best to our rulers.  We know to show our best side to those we respect.  We would never give a less than perfect gift to someone like a king.  But we would to God?

Malachi 1:10 goes on to say: “‘Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will accept no offering from your hands.'”  Francis Chan explains that God was saying “no worship is better than apathetic worship.”  Chan compares this to token praise.  None of us like to receive compliments out of guilt or obligation.  Why would we think that these should be our motivations to worship God?

Genesis 4:2b-5 says, “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.  In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.  And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”  Hebrews 11:4 tells us why God looked with favor on Abel’s offering and not Cain’s: “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings…”  Abel didn’t bring leftovers.  Abel brought the best.  What are we bringing God?  Are we bringing halfhearted worship?  Five minutes of prayer?  Are we making excuses for why we didn’t have time to seek His face?  

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