While reading the first chapter of Malachi, I was stumped by this one thought scribbled into my notebook.
Are you only giving to God the things you don’t need to live a comfortable life?
This thought stopped me in my tracks. The other week I was scrolling through Pinterest as I have a habit to do when bored, and a quote crossed my feed that read:
I’m learning that being generous is not about developing surplus to give away, but rather about making my own self uncomfortable so that someone else may be comforted.Sydney Stephens
To me, it didn’t just mean monetary generosity. “Generosity” encompasses a readiness to give all human recourses, like time, effort, love, and even money if the situation requires.
So that had stayed with me and was rolling through my mind as I read through God’s rebuke of Israel’s less-than-perfect sacrifices. Animals that were blind, lame, or sick were the ones laid out to worship and repent to a holy God. While I can look on those verses and judge God’s chosen people for keeping the best for themselves, I can also look on my own life and see the very same thing. I get outraged looking back, knowing that those sacrifices were supposed to represent the perfect Jesus that would come and be the atonement for our sin. But how many times do I give God my leftovers? Leftover time, resources. Leftover love. I pray when bored and have nothing better to do. I read when I have 10 minutes to scan a verse or two. I dwell on God when I’m scared or hurt and on sunny days when things are going my way and I want to thank Him. But what about the mundane Thursday nights or the middle of the workday when I’m staring out the window at work waiting for 5:00? What about when a customer is being difficult or irate? In the heat of the moment, do I turn my thoughts to the Lord for direction?
No, more often than not. I find a way to navigate those mundane or irate moments in my own flesh and understanding, as we are all tempted to do. Because that’s my nature. It’s what is comfortable to me. Which brings me back to the question at hand.
Do I only give God what I find unnecessary to live a comfortable life?
The empty minutes.
The lonely hours.
The long car rides.
Whatever love I have left over on Sunday morning after a long weekend.
Whatever time I have leftover after I go to the gym before work.
Sure, I’ll pray as long as it doesn’t take time away from every other activity I have planned for the day.
I’ll read my Bible as long as it’s a slow day at work and I don’t have anything else going on in the morning. Just don’t ask me to wake up early or stay up late, because I want my sleep and that’s a necessity for a comfortable life.
I’ll reach out to an old friend as long as I’m positive the conversation won’t end in rejection.
I’ll help someone in need as long as I know they’ll be grateful and I’ll get a pat on the back at the end of it.
I’ll show up at church as long as I know at least 1 person will be happy to see me.
Just don’t ask me to be uncomfortable. Don’t ask me to give the best times of the day. Don’t ask me to put myself out on a limb.
All of that to say this:
Don’t let yourself give God your leftovers. Give Him your prime time. Give Him your finest hour. Give Him your best shot, because in the end there’s the weight of eternity looming over every passing day. Be generous to the Lord with your time and effort. Go broke. There’s no deficiency that He can’t make an overflowing fountain.
We’ve no life to live but the one we live for Him.