Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This week I read a "Miss Manners" letter written by a woman fed up with her in-laws for coming over for dinner, and then asking for a large helping of what was served to take home to their dog. Not table scraps, mind you, but a Tupperware-sized helping of the good stuff. As in, "Can we please have a slab of that prime rib to take home to our pooch?" type of thing.

I can see why the woman was upset. I love my dog, too--but Jack gets regular old dog food, or an occasional table scrap. We're not tossing him lobster tails or filling his bowl with caviar. It just seems like there's something a little off about taking home the richest of fare for the family pet.

But there's something more than a little off about throwing table scraps to a far worthier God.

Reading this letter in the paper was timely because I recently finished reading the chapter in Crazy Love entitled "Serving Leftovers to a Holy God" -- a chapter that has really challenged me to consider the ways in which I'm insisting on bringing the best to the LORD, and the ways in which I'm tossing Him a few table scraps now and then. And it's been a humbling little exercise.

Even as I've entered/tagged/organized clothes for a consignment sale (from which I will profit) this week, I've found myself thinking, "Whatever doesn't sell can go to the Clothesline event at the church." Ugh--it hurts my heart just to type these words because I hate that I thought them! Yes, the money I earn from the sale will go to buy the next round of clothes for my children--nothing wrong with that. But there's something about that thought process that just screams "You are planning to give the lesser things. You're planning to give the leftovers."

This week has felt overwhelming, time-wise. If I can just get through the next 9 days, I'm golden. But it has also really challenged the amount of time I have sat down strictly to worship and spend time with God. 3 minutes reading a Psalm just doesn't cut it for me anymore, but that's what the past week has been like. And it bothers me to my core that out of a 24-hour day, He's getting like 3 minutes of my undivided attention. That's unacceptable. It's like tossing Him table scraps.

It's also this way when we look at how much money we expect to have left over at the end of the month before writing out the tithe check. But in Malachi you never hear God say He anything about "leftovers." Instead, He uses the word "firstfruits."

I think sometimes the concept of "firstfruits" is a little too foreign to us. We give out of our excess--whatever remains at the end of what we ourselves have consumed is what we're willing to share. But that's not especially impressive to a watching God:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in their large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, "I tell you the truth, this poor woman has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of her wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."
Mark 12:41-44

LORD, I am convicted when I consider some of the ways in which I'm tossing You a bone just to appease my guilt rather than bringing the very best to You because I am so in love with You. Please give me a deep, insatiable love for You that compels me to bring my very best to You--time, talents, offerings, all of it. Forgive me for all the times You've gotten my leftovers.

* In what ways are you currently experiencing the battle between firstfruits and leftovers?

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