He said to Aaron, “Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect, and present them before the Lord” – Leviticus 9:2, NIV
Leviticus is a tough read. You can try and say that it isn’t, and more power to you if you can keep from falling asleep when you try and read any portion of it after 10 pm in your bed. Some of it is uncomfortable when you start reading about the penalty for various types of sexual sins or the commands to stone people based on various offenses. By the time that you finish, you can be even more thankful to Jesus who came to fulfill the law and who bore our sin as the Lamb of God so that no animal would ever have to be killed or law followed in atonement for our sin again if we but repent and accept the gift of salvation!
We can still learn a great deal about the history of the Israelites. Their dedication to God through these laws was fulfilled with Jesus, and now we are held accountable to even higher standards than the Ten Commandments. This is a lot of the focus of Jesus’s speech in Matthew 5 when He told them they may have heard not to murder but that even having anger against their brother will subject them to judgment. Also, lusting after a woman is equal to adultery. He gave many more examples throughout the chapter. The heart of the matter is the status of our heart. Our thoughts can cause us to sin apart from the action itself.
The instructions of the Israelites to present an offering “without defect” is an example to us today that we need to give God our best. We give back to God as recognition of Who is in control of everything. The Israelites gave from the “firstfruits” of their crops and income as a sign of importance to God (Prov. 3:9-10). It was not optional; they were committed to this as an act of obedience.
Romans 12:1 (NIV) commands us to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” Now that we do not sacrifice an animal “without defect,” we must present ourselves to God “without defect.”
How can we give “without defect” today? We give back to God in three areas: our time, our talents, and our wealth.
Giving of our time “without defect” to God is shown in the quality of time we spend with Him. If we watch a 3-hour movie and then struggle to read the Bible for 5 minutes while we are in bed with our eyes drifting to sleep, that is obviously not quality time. Our time is not accidental; our activities do not just “happen” to us. Apart from extenuating circumstances, we plan out our time and our day.
If we do not make it a part of our routines and commit to reading the Bible and praying, it will not happen. It cannot be a checkmark during our day; it needs to be a time we look forward to meeting with our Lord and Savior. Giving the best of our time does not mean hours at a time either at the expense of our family or jobs. There is a balance to everything, and it is a matter between you and God based on your heart.
Giving “without defect” in our talents is in how we serve our community, church, and those around us. It is also about using our spiritual gifts for the edification of the body of believers as we are called to in 1 Corinthians 12. If we aren’t serving someone else, we are only serving ourselves. This requires being uncomfortable at times and signing up for things that you may not want to do but you know you can do. A rule of thumb out there for churches is that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. It’s not due to a lack of time or skill but simply stepping out and saying “Here I am, send me” as Isaiah responded to God in Isaiah 6:8.
Giving “without defect” in our wealth comes in the form of tithes and offerings. God chastised the Israelites in Malachi 3 for withholding their tithes from Him. God speaks to Israel: “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings (v. 8). God follows this up with a promise of blessing. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse… test me in this 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” (v. 10).
God can do more with our 90 percent than we can do with our 100 percent. If we are faithful in tithing, the Bible promises blessings. However, we do not give to get. We need to give generously and with abundance, for God “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). We need to pay out our tithe first and not after all the bills and “toys” have been paid for.
Discerning Reflection: How am I not giving my best to God in the areas of time, talents, and wealth? What changes can I make after reading this today?
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for not giving You my best offerings “without defect” to You. Help me make better choices and put You first in all these areas of my life so I can show with my actions that You are a priority to me. Amen.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on discerning-dad.com
Featured Image by Jared Erondu