Giving God the Best

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As 2020 draws to an end, Malachi is the last book in my annual Bible reading journey. Today, I read Malachi’s prophecy where God judged Israel for breaking covenant with Him. How?

1) Through offering blemished sacrifices (1:6-14): they offered Him animals that were blind, lame or sick on the altar.
2) Through divorce (2:10-16); marrying foreign women who did not worship God, and being unfaithful to the wives of their youth
3) Through injustice (2:17-3:5) oppressing the widows, orphans, foreigners, depriving them of the justice they deserved
4) Through withholding tithes (3:6-9): robbing God what is due Him. See background of tithing from Leviticus 27.

Hence the famous verse that followed:

Malachi 3
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

This verse is often used to get people to give/tithe to the church. Give and see if I will not bless you so abundantly that you will have no room to store your treasures.

Yet, this verse is not about reaping what you sow. God is not saying: Give to me and I will bless you even more.

God said to Israel: you are robbing me of what is due me. Going back to the background of blemished sacrifices, we learn the important truth of giving God the best – not the leftovers, the things that we would not keep for ourselves.

What is the best? Is it about quantity of my offerings? How much money I give? How many hours I spend to lead Bible studies, to sing in the choir, to attend fellowships, to help in charity works? Is it about the quality of my gifts? How many people were helped through my giving? How much they ‘benefitted’ from my offerings? How they were blessed when they received what I gave?

All these are externals – things that people see, stuffs that perhaps can be measured – in terms of quantity and quality. But God sees what is inside – what is the condition of my heart when I give to Him?

Let me cite an example to illustrate. Recently I joined the virtual choir of my home church. As a choir member, I am to record my voice and my singing individually excluding the accompaniment.
I can listen to a voice guide with piano music while recording but only my voice should be recorded. It is not easy coz it’s really weird to hear myself singing solo with no accompaniment at all.

The first time I listened to my own voice recording, I wanted to just quit. It is like listening to an old lady – a trembling voice, going out of tune because going out of breath.. really out of practice. LOL! Long story short, no matter how much time I spent practicing, how many recordings I made, I never had any perfect submissions. The best I can do is to sing the words accurately and sing from my heart.

I learned that my best might not be the best in pitch, tone, rhythm, or even the best smile that I can offer while singing. My best is the attitude in my heart while singing. It is the condition of my heart when recording. Was I lazy – giving up when i knew I could do better to correct the mistake? Was I proud thinking I’ve done enough? Was I doing it quickly just to get it over and done with? Did I care more about how I would appear – how nice I would look in the video? I’ve also wondered at the magic moments – perhaps the audio editor would work magic on my pitch, or erase my out-of-breath segments? I’ve also wished if only the wrong words I sang would poof into thin air then I would not need to repeat the recording. LOL, not possible. And so, I need to do it again. And while I sing, I pray.. Lord, please help me sing till the end – with the correct words and best that I can offer.

And indeed, God does open the floodgates of heaven to pour so much blessings on me… the healing in my soul against depressive dark thoughts and gloomy sad moods, to be replaced by uplifting bright countenance – to be able to praise and worship Him in my singing and my writing.

Singing and writing keep me sane in the pandemic. One of my favourite songs in virtual choir is My Hope is in the Lord.

Words and Music by Joseph M. Martin (BMI)

My hope is in the Lord.
My hope is in the Lord.
When all my strength has failed me,
In Christ I am restored.

My hope is in the Lord.
My hope is in the Lord.
When danger gathers near me,
God’s Word will be my sword.

When shadows fall around me,
And when silence steals my song,
When I bend beneath my burden,
God’s love will keep me strong.

When the tempest rages ‘round me,
God is shelter from the storm.
My hope is in the Lord.
My hope is in the Lord.

Lord, when I walk through valleys deep,
When mountains rise before my way,
When enemies surround me,
When shadows steal the day,
You are the Lord of my life,
My song in the night.
You are truth and light.
You are truth and light.

God’s Word is truth. God is true to His Word. He gave and gave beyond what I could ever hope to ask for. He only asks that i love Him with all my being – and in loving, I give Him my best – best according to His standard, not mine.

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