What is an Acceptable Offering to the Lord? As I have mentioned before, we often think of giving God our very best, and of course this thought has a strong biblical foundation. But I am convinced that God also wants us to willingly relinquish to Him our very worst. Those things we hold to like a second skin. Willingly, we offer our praises, our thanksgiving, our firstfruits. Greedily, we hold back from Him those things that we do not know how to live without.
In Joshua 6 and 7, the wall of Jericho came down when the Israelites carefully followed God’s directions. Afterward, Joshua told the men to destroy everything except the silver, gold, bronze and iron, which were to be dedicated to the Lord. Achan of Carmi, of the tribe of Judah, secretly disobeyed this edict until the Lord exposed him to the entire nation of Israel, whereupon he confessed, “when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath” (Joshua 7:21). His sin brought the Lord’s judgement upon Israel; so he and his entire family were stoned to death and he was buried under a huge pile of rocks. After the people killed Achan, the Lord turned his burning anger away from [Israel] (Joshua 7:26). Achan thought he could secretly keep something for himself, though he was expressly told not to, and this was his downfall. The series of posts, Acceptable Offering, explores those things we may be unwilling to offer to the Lord. As with Achan, holding onto things when we are expressly told not to, can be our own undoing and bring trouble to those around us.
My very favorite novel in all the world is Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (AmazonPrime). Like all of Jane Austen’s stories, the characters are drawn with great detail and much attention is paid to their their motives and intentions. The novel is written primarily from the point of view of Miss Elizabeth Bennett. She is so clever, and capable, and comfortable in her own skin – I have always admired her. Her male counterpart is the wealthy and arrogant Mr. Darcy. As the title indicates, the story is about a Pride and, well, obviously…Prejudice. Our Miss Bennett is often a bit too quick to make judgements about people upon meeting them (Prejudice) and the aloof Mr. Darcy is apt to look down his gentrified nose at almost everyone (Pride). As the story develops, we begin to see that things are not as simple as they seem. In the end, we see that Prejudice comes from a sort of pride and Pride can cause one to unjustly prejudge people. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy had a lot more in common than they knew at the beginning. In other words, “How can you say to your brother, ‘˜Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42). Or as we say at our house: pot/kettle. In the book, there is a happy ending. Don’t you miss those these days? The characters see their own shortcomings and realize they were wrong about each other.
The moral of the story is that Pride comes in many forms. Sometimes it is obvious to everyone, like when a person has a tendency to brag. Of course, these days we just call that good self-esteem and maybe a little harmless self-promotion. God says: Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (Prov. 27:2). Other times pride is more internalized and may be perceived simply as self-confidence and self-reliance. But inside, this is the person who sees themselves as “the self-made man/woman”, who has it all under control. This is the action hero in every movie, most of our politicians, sports legends, movie stars, and plenty of people that you see every day. God says: Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him (Prov. 26:12). There are people who build themselves up by tearing others down. They say, “It’s just a joke.” They offer “friendly” advice (all the time) to the rest of us, smugly disapproving of us as they “help”. God says: The proud and arrogant person “Mocker” is his name behaves with insolent fury (Prov. 12:24). Some gossip about others saying, “Just keeping you in the loop” or lamenting, “Did you hear? Isn’t it a shame?” God says: Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate (Psalm 101:5).
It is these little things…that seem to be so harmless. But little sins are still sins. Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear (Is 59:2). People say, “That’s just who I am. I can’t help it.” God says: if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Gen 4:7. As we bring the offering of ourselves before the Lord, we are to be completely dedicated to Him. We are not to keep a portion back, to do with as we wish. We must search our hearts and unearth all that is rightfully His so that we can make our Acceptable Offering to Him. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Ps 51:17).
JustAgirl…just like you.