Not the 10% tithe for the offering plate on Sunday. Not the extras I give to overseas missions so that the world might hear of Christ. Not the money I'd willingly share to bring another orphan home. Not even the "first fruits" or the unblemished sacrifices.
It's all those things, but so much more! MY LIFE is my offering!
Every single breath; every thought taken captive; every whisper of prayer; every death to self; every service in His name; every kind word spoken; every ounce of self-will submitted to God's will; every step of faith; every gift to the "least of these"- to the needy and the broken; every part of me poured out onto the alter of God.... my offering!
I have only one life to live ~ I can live it for me, or I can live it as an offering to Him!
I've been reading through the book of Leviticus lately and am struck by the endless offerings required by God from His people. It all seems grueling and tedious... Why, Lord, do you give to your people, only to ask for it back in the form of endless offerings? Why not keep the best for yourself and give us the leftovers to start with? And since it's all yours anyway, why demand anything back from us? Our hands will surely make a mess of it, or worse yet, fall to the temptation to keep it all for ourselves in the end...
I've had enough Sunday School lessons and sermons to know the obvious answer... It is to keep us ever mindful of our dependance on God for all things. To respond with a grateful heart. To keep Him first in our hearts and to not allow ourselves to become "polluted by the world" (James 1:27b) But today, as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, I saw it!!!! Every single gift that flows from God's hands into my life is intended to be returned to Him as MY offering...
I have a choice to make... I can squander His gifts. I can spend His gifts on myself. I can abuse them and discard them. Or I can make them the "investment" of my life and return them to Him as a multiplied, beautiful offering. And suddenly this truth shines so brightly I can hardly miss it.... This was His intention all along!
He gave me life to glorify Him. Period. That means that every single gift given to these human hands is meant to be returned to Him for His glory. I have no offering, no ability to glorify Him without His first giving. I've been living with myself long enough to know that anything produced in my own strength is nowhere near the glory He deserves. He said it plainly in His Word... "Without me you can do nothing!"
My offering is dependent on His gift. Maybe that's why He said that "to those whom much has been given, much is required!" The more He gives to faithful hands, the greater the return for His glory. I want to be found trustworthy with His gifts, so that He might entrust me with more and more. Then I pray for the strength to multiply gift upon gift for His Kingdom.
Some days I feel too full, at the end of my rope, "done", weary... I feel too weak to present an offering to God. I've already given,... thanks! I'd honestly like the gifts to keep flowing, but I'm at the bottom of the barrel for anything to give back. What an embarassing admittion in light of all He's given!
Deep inside I want MORE! Remember that "skidding into heaven completely empty" thing I was talking about recently? That's what I really want! Yes ~ a life dedicated to taking everything He gives, using it for His glory, and returning it as a sweet offering that is pleasing in His sight. Because, when my days are through, I can take absolutely nothing with me. I will stand before Him and my life will be judged in proportion to the gifts I was given. I won't stand next to Billy Graham, Hudson Taylor, or even Doug McCary, and be forced to give an account for what they did with God's gifts. God will hold me solely accountable for what I did with what He gave. Period.
I'm certain this is why Jesus commended the poor widow who gave a pittance compared to the religious leaders around her. He said that she gave all she had, while the others gave out of their abundance... keeping most for themselves and sacrificing little. There it is!!! And it's been there all along! God wants all of me! Not 10%, not a little extra, or a little more... but ALL of me!
I have a pet peeve about something, and I think this would be the perfect place to share it! I have this "thing" for returning possessions loaned to me back to their owners in better condition than when I received them... It's my way of showing a grateful heart for their generosity. If you share something with me that has the least bit of dirt, spot, or wrinkle - I will return it to you sparkling clean and in better condition than you saw it last. In so doing, I am saying "thank you"!
I have heard too many stories of missionaries or ministers who have the all-time worst reputation for not doing this, and the generous gift givers feel used and unappreciated! So I've become hyper-vigilant to never let this be the case with me! I will clean a borrowed condo from top to bottom and vacuum my way out the door, so that the owner will return to my pleasant surprise! I've even spent hours with my children on our knees, spot cleaning dirty carpet stains that had been left there long before we arrived as a "poor woman's" way to say thanks!
I am suddenly aware of my need to treat God's gifts in the same way! Wouldn't it be a beautiful way to say thanks to the God who gave it all? To receive a gift from His hands, and say..."Lord, I will return this as a sacrifice and an offering to you!!!" I will pour my heart out to return His gifts well loved, well cared for, and multiplied as a good steward...
The gift of my husband ~ loved, respected, supported, cared for, encouraged ...my offering.
The gift of my home ~ warm and inviting, a place of rest, a place of love, open to friends and strangers alike, a gift to be shared ...my offering.
Our money ~ held loosely, spent wisely, shared freely, invested in eternity ...my offering.
The gift of friendship ~ Christ honoring, encouraging, exhorting to godliness, sweet laughter ...my offering.
The children given to me through birth ~ dedicated to the Lord, loved, trained in righteousness, loved, disciplined in godliness, loved, taught the Word, loved, modeled a deep love for Jesus ...my offering.
And what a beautiful picture when applied to the broken children He has entrusted into my care ~ to love them as the precious treasures they are and to lead them to Jesus. I have found profound joy in pouring myself into these beautiful gifts from my gracious God! They have been a sweet sacrifice ...my offering.
The gift of "time" ~ spent on pursuing Christ in all things, honoring the Lord in all I do, redeeming every moment for His glory ...my offering.
This blog and my love for "words" ~ centered on Christ and glorifying to Him. Always. ...my offering.
Yes, even the gifts of heartbreak and pain ~ a chance to praise Him and know Him in ways I didn't know were possible. To choose joy in the midst of pain because HE is my reward ...my offering.
"My life is my offering to you, Lord. I willingly invite struggle; I invite cost; I invite less of me; I invite more of You! I will take the gifts most do not desire, Lord, so that I might have the opportunity to pour myself out as an offering to Your glory!!!! I ask for more of Your good gifts, that I might return them as an offering to YOU!"
Romans 12:1 ~ "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God..."
This is my offering....