When God lambasted the Jews in Malachi 1-2 for offering defective animal sacrifices, many Christians raised their collective eyebrows and thought to themselves, “At least we’re not required to offer animal sacrifices in the New Testament. We’re fine, thank you very much.”
No, we are not fine. Malachi’s point was not merely about the offense of offering defective animals. It was about our tendency to give God the leftovers of our lives while we withhold the best part for ourselves. The following are the usual leftovers we give him:
Some people may cringe at the idea of loving God with our emotions. Let them cringe. Luke 10:27 tells us we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts. Responding to God on the emotional level is biblical and necessary. Many people today are too emotionally invested in everything except in God. They are passionate about politics, global warming, human rights, and their freedom to love whoever they want. But they barely have a drop of emotion for the things of God. Their worship is bland and devoid of passion.
I often see this in church: Christians who are very enthusiastic about events, outings, and other church activities. They have all the energy to do everything except to nourish their spiritual lives. They excel at doing external Christianity while they barely put in the effort of maturing themselves in Christ. At the end of the day, they slump in bed unable to utter a prayer and read their Bibles because they spent all their energy on secondary things.
Leftovers of Your Intellect
Too many Christians today are anti-intellectuals. They dislike reading, scholarship, and practically anything that demands critical thinking. They prefer worshiping God with blind emotionalism. In 1994, Mark Noll wrote The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, a landmark book that explores how modern Christianity failed in sustaining a serious intellectual life. We don’t love God with our minds anymore. We can memorize taxation laws, scientific names, K-Pop lyrics, and Harry Potter spells but we don’t have the intellectual stamina to memorize Bible verses, let alone learn basic hermeneutics. This is giving God the leftovers of our intellectual capacity.
Leftovers of Your Life
There are also people who spend their younger years serving their selfish ambitions while they push God to the sidelines. They give their best years to the pleasures of the flesh, to the schemes and lies of the devil, to materialism, and to false ideologies. They thought they would have time to serve God when they are older and have nothing else to do. I think that is dangerous. What makes them think that they would still be alive by then?
Give Him the Best Years of Your Life
Elsewhere I explained why God demanded that his people worship him. Worship is giving God not just our best offerings and best gifts but most importantly the best years of our lives. I think it is time for Christians to quit living in spiritual mediocrity and start giving Christianity their best shot. Luke 10:27 says it best: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”