In Chan's next sub-section, entitled Offering Leftovers, he makes two statements that give me great pause: one due to conviction and the other due to perception... okay, maybe both due to conviction.
"For years, I gave God leftovers and felt no shame. I simply took my eyes off Scripture and instead compared myself to others. the bones I threw to God had more meat on them than the bones others threw, so I figured I was doing fine.
"It's easy to fill ourselves up with other things and then give God whatever is left... A mumbled three-minute prayer at the end of the day, when we are already half asleep. Two crumpled-up dollar bills thrown as an afterthought into the church's fund for the poor. Fetch, God!" p. 91
For me, this brings up two issues. First, I'm not giving God our "first fruits," if you will. Because things are so tight, financially, I'm lucky if I can pay all the bill and still have enough money for groceries. If there is enough money, THEN I will give to God. (With my mouth, I say that God comes first; however, my actions say that the bills come first!). The second thing actually plays off the first. BECAUSE things are so tight tight now, I'm taking matters into my own hands. When my husband was bringing home a sizable paycheck, the first thing I did every pay day was set aside money in our tithing account... yes, we have a tithing account! (But, we haven't used it much lately.) Each pay day, I would set aside 10% into this account. And we used this money for whatever we felt God leading us to do. It was the first time in my life when I truly had a joyful heart when giving. When the money was there, we gave freely. But now, because there isn't as much money, we are holding on to whatever we have... not exactly a Biblical principle, is it?
The second thing that Chan said was this:
"Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God's point of view (and lest we forget, His is the only one who matters), they're evil. Let's stop calling it 'a busy schedule' or 'bills' or 'forgetfulness.' It's called evil." p. 92
The reference to evil stems from Malachi 1:8. In those times, the priests would keep the best animals for themselves, sacrificing the less desirable animals to God, based on the WRONG assumption that God would simply be pleased that they were sacrificing something... They were mistaken! But, regardless, evil just seems a little harsh. When I think of things that are evil, I think of murders, child pornographers, satanic cults... I don't think of people, like myself, that might not give my best offering up to the Lord. I mean, there has to be some sort of hierarchy for evil, right? There's no way God would lump me in with "those other people," right? Well... I don't know the answer to that question... but I can't help going back to the issue of sin when I hear this. I've always believed that sin is sin... period. My "small" seemingly harmless sin is no less hurtful to God than someone else's "huge" society-shunning sin. So, what if the same applies to this issue of "evil"? Definitely something to think about!
Today, I really feel the need to give abundantly to the Lord. Not necessarily with money, but maybe with time, or service. Try to give your BEST offering unto the Lord. Feel free to make your offering financial... but you can also give your best in other ways: Spend some incredible quality time with your kids, surprise your spouse with an special dinner or bring home some flowers, make some muffins or a pie for a neighbor... maybe even do a couple of those things! Serve God by showing His love to others.