For years my family vacationed at the beach on Labor Day weekend. I always took my Bible and read a few verses before I got up in the morning, but we didn’t go to church. After all, we were away from our church and we were on vacation. But my vacation didn’t matter to my boss. I worked for a state college and when my office began to sponsor a big welcome back event on Labor Day, he expected everyone to be there. It didn’t matter that it was a holiday. It didn’t matter that I had plans to go out of town. It didn’t matter that I would disappoint my family. So we left the beach early and I showed up for work.
If I would let another state employee take over my time, I can just imagine what I’d do at the command of a king. Yet, I didn’t make any effort to give God such an offering. He barely got my attention at all. (I did praise Him for His creation while I sat on the beach and watched the ocean.)
In Malachi’s time, the Israelites thought they were being clever. They tried to meet the letter of the law by making sacrifices, but they were only interested in benefitting themselves, so they substituted an inferior product and kept the best for themselves.
Reading a Bible verse or two and saying a quick prayer of praise feel a bit like that. I could still say I had my devotions. I wasn’t totally ignoring God. But He certainly wasn’t getting His due.
I like the measure God gives me here. If it’s not good enough for a king (or president or congress or governor or . . .), it’s certainly not good enough for God. I should give Him better than I give the government. A few things come to mind.
How much I pay in taxes versus how much I pay in tithes and offerings.
How carefully I obey civil laws versus how carefully I obey God’s laws.
How hard I try to be on time to work versus how easily I slip into church late.
I’m sure there are others and I plan to watch for them. Using the government as an example to measure my commitment to my King is good. But my prayer is that I’ll always offer God my best without effort.