Don’t Give God Leftovers
If Jesus were coming over for dinner, what would you serve him?
My guess is that you would prepare your very best dish. You’d hit the grocery store and pick up all of the needed ingredients. You’d spend the afternoon chopping and marinating and simmering. You’d put out the fancy silverware and maybe even a new tablecloth. Chances are you’d also run around the house cleaning and tidying up as well. After all, if you’re going have a guest of honour like Jesus, you give him the very best!
It would be right of you to think that way. Jesus himself agrees. Remember when the prostitute came to Jesus and anointed his feet with expensive perfume? Judas tried to stop her, yet Jesus insisted that what she did was a fitting thing. It is right to give Jesus our very best. He is worthy of it, and even demands it from us.
If Jesus were coming over for dinner, here’s what you wouldn’t do. You wouldn’t go to your fridge, pull out a few containers of tupperware with last night’s leftovers, stick it in the microwave, and serve it to Jesus on a paper plate. No, there’s no way you would do that – not if you are someone who cares at all to give Jesus the honour he is due. You would know without even having to think about it that that is not an appropriate way to serve Christ.
First Things First
Let’s be honest. Don’t most of us sometimes settle for giving Jesus our leftovers? Wether it’s with our time, our money, our talents, our attention, our affection, or our devotion, we all are guilty of diverting those things towards selfish endeavours before we direct them towards Christ. Sure, we manage to give God a little something, a token reminder that we are still a follower of him. But we could hardly call it loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
This was the very thing God was facing in the day of the prophet Malachi. Early in chapter 1, God confronts his people saying they are polluting his altar. The people ask, “How have we polluted you?” God responds:
 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…. …For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.
Remember Who We Are Dealing With
The Israelites had grown complacent. They were still bringing their animal sacrifices as they had been commanded to do, but rather than bringing the very best of their flock, they were content to bring only animals that were crippled or disabled. In their worship of God, they kept the best for themselves and offered to God only that which was of no use to them. In other words, they gave God their leftovers.
How does God respond? By saying that he’d be happy if someone would shut the temple doors and send everyone home! He states that he will no longer regard his people with favour, because they are treating him with even less respect than a human governor. In short, he simply won’t tolerate it. He reminds the Israelites who they are dealing with: the God who is King of the Universe. He will see to it that his name is revered among the nations, that he gets the honour he is due. Nothing less will suffice.
Give What You Have
When it comes to giving God your best, you shouldn’t feel the need to compare it with what someone else can offer. True, the prostitute was commended for offering to Jesus extremely costly perfume; yet Jesus also commended the poor widow who could give only two small coins. The point is not the actual sum of the offering, but rather the degree to which it demonstrates a heart that puts God first. If you have much to give, give much. If you have little to give, give little. The point is not the size of our offerings but the priority of it. If we give God our very best, wether that be much or little, God is pleased, because we have put him first as we ought.
Where Are You Giving God Leftovers?
So, how about you? Where in your life have you grown content with giving God leftovers? Have you been spending your money freely on your own desires, only to be generous towards God if anything is left at the end of the month? Are you only willing to serve after you have given sufficient time towards personal hobbies? Is it your custom to spend time with God for 3 minutes at the end of the day, just as you drift off to sleep, because you’re too busy with other things? Are you ready to give God your all as a believer – but only after everything in your life falls neatly into place and no inconveniences arise?
Take a look upon the altar of your life. Blind goats. Lame sheep. Blemished sparrows.
Let us remember that we serve a great King. Let us remember that this great King has gotten of his throne and gave his very best on the altar for us – the true spotless Lamb, the sinless Son of God. What other response is there but to give God our very best?
My friends, let us not be content to offer to our Saviour merely tokens of respect when he has shed his own blood for us. Do not permit a heart of complacency to linger when only one of utter love and devotion will do. Refuse to let this day come to a close without having given God his fair due.
Give him your very best!