A little boy I knew very well indeed came with me to visit an old lady who was house-bound. He’d had a selection box of chocolates as a Christmas present, and he chose one of the chocolate bars from it, wrapped it up, and then gave it to the old lady. I was so pleased. She was delighted – the little boy was happy. It is enjoyable to give. In fact it is more blessed to give than to receive. Then the old lady’s grown up son came in, said “Hello” to us all. He then saw the chocolate, now unwrapped, and gave it to the little boy saying “My mother won’t eat this”. The lad said “No thanks, I don’t like Turkish Delight”. So the lovely gift all went sour. Generously giving away what we don’t want is a refined form of throwing out!
In the Old Testament book of Leviticus there is a marvellous instruction about offering to God unblemished offerings. In those days, wealth was reckoned in animals, not hard cash or credit cards, so to worship meant you gave from your cattle as a free will gift offering to God …But it must be an animal without defect or blemish.
Do not offer to the Lord the blind, the injured or the maimed, or anything with warts or festering or running sores. Do not place any of these on the altar as an offering made to the Lord by fire. Leviticus 22:22
To weed out the defects of your flock by giving the imperfect and flawed animals of no value to God is to treat God as a rubbish bin! Blemished offerings are not acceptable to the real God. If it’s no use to you, why should God want it? He doesn’t accept new temples built by the Mafia. Nor the tears of those who cry just because they’ve been found out. Nor the bribes of those who think that giving to the poor from what they have taken by illegal means puts them in God’s good books. Listen to a bit more of Leviticus:
Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. Do not profane my holy name. Leviticus 22: 31-32a
Pause for thought now! Clever advertisers used to put it this way: ‘Do you love someone enough to give them your last Rolo?’ Well – go on – how much do you love God?
Lord God, have mercy on your people who offer you only the scraps left over from the day and give only from the small change in their pockets or purses.
Now read II Samuel 24: 18-25, and underline part of v.24.