If you present an animal from the herd as a peace offering to the Lord, it may be a male or a female, but it must have no defects.
Relate: From the title and picture above, you probably already know that I am talking about perfection today. I know that some of you, the perfectionists, are rubbing your hands with delight. I know who you are. You’re the ones who will be sending me an email because I forgot to set the scripture reference link to open up in a separate tab or because I switched tenses between my “relate” and “react” sections and you will have a list of rules for why I shouldn’t have done so. I’m half tempted to leave ten mistakes in this post. Let’s see if you can find them all.
The rest of you, the ones like me, are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh great. Here we go again.” You have heard pastors preach on perfection from Matthew 5:47 or holiness from 1 Peter 1:16 more than enough times already. You are sick and tired of people demanding a standard that you know you can never meet, and that they aren’t meeting either. You will hear me say that God demanded from the Israelites a perfect sacrifice. Also, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. And if we are to be like him, then we also should offer ourselves as a perfect sacrifice. Each statement is true, but in each case, the presentation of perfect has a different meaning.
We use perfect many ways in English. I can say, “this room is perfect for you” or “they are the perfect couple.” I am not saying that the room is absolutely flawless or that the couple never has any fights, arguments, or misunderstandings. I am saying that one thing is perfect, or highly suitable, for something else. I can tell my students that I want them to translate this using the present perfect tense. As one student pointed out, there is absolutely nothing perfect about the English language. I just answered, “I know English is tough. Though it can be understood through thorough thought.” She just threw up her hands and walked through the door.
Some of my football friends still talk about the Superbowl where the Giants ruined the Patriots’ perfect season. Does that mean that every play in every game was performed flawlessly? No. It simply meant that they had not (yet) lost a game until David Tyree’s helmet catch left the world in awe. By the way, any time an announcer talks about a “perfect” catch, comparisons are made to this one. But any coach trying to get his high school players to play to perfection would chew out anyone trying to replicate it. So is it perfect or not? What is perfect?
React: In Malachi, God takes the Hebrew people to task because they were not following up with the requirements for a sacrifice God laid out here in Leviticus 3. They were offering an imperfect sacrifice and then they were wondering why God was not blessing them. It is in this context that one of the most commonly used Bible verses for the offering appeal pops up: “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.” (Malachi 3:10)
What are we offering to God? One person might say, “Yeah, I can volunteer at the church on Saturday. It’s not like I was doing anything at that time anyways.” They might as well say, “If I am going to throw it away anyway, I might as well throw it God’s way.” Another person can make the same exact sacrifice and yet it is their best. They could say, “Saturday afternoons are the only free time I have all week. It is the only time that is my time and the best thing I can do with it is to give it to God.” For one person giving a five-figure offering is no big deal. They need to find a tax-deductable location to get their write off and the church is a better place to give it than the Red Cross (who are horribly inefficient with their financial donations, Be wise and just give them blood, not ever money). For another person, giving twenty dollars in the plate means they will have to be choosing between gas and groceries until their next paycheck comes in. It is a more perfect sacrifice. What sacrifice is perfect for you to give? What does it truly cost?
The best I have to give You is all of me. I know that I am far from perfect, but I am the perfect offering. It is a complete offering, with nothing more that can be added. It is a highly appropriate offering, it is the best that I have to give. So I know that even though I am far from perfect, in Your hands I can be used perfectly. So I give myself to You.
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To read previous years devotionals taken from the February 16th please click below: