"I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing." David (2 Samuel 24:24b)
How often does our worship, does our dedication, does out commitment to the Lord cost us anything? Maybe it's cost us a little sleep...maybe a few friends here and there over the years...maybe its even cost us a job or a grade...but has it truly cost us anything? David, in the above statement, was explaining to those around him that he would pay for the threshing floor he would use to offer a sacrifice to the Lord on, because he didn't want to take the easy route and be given the floor. In his mind, if he got the space for free, it wasn't a sacrifice of praise at all but just a praise of convenience.
So I asked myself: What's my threshing floor?
The answer to that isn't quite as cut-and-dry as I'd like it to be, but that seems to be the nature of most things. I think my sacrifice will look differently at different times and situations in my life. On Sunday morning at church, if I'm standing in the congregation and really don't feel like singing that morning, my sacrifice is to take myself out of the equation and sing. I don't sing because I'm always in the mood to sing (which is generally the case) but I sing to encourage others around me [check out this blog by Greg Gilbert on this subject]. Then, maybe I'm at the grocery store and the woman next to me in line wants to strike up a conversation and I'm just not feeling it. At that time, though we wouldn't initially say that's a 'worship moment' the Lord asks us to love others and to share Him with them - this would be a perfect opportunity for me to do that if I would, once again, take myself out of the equation and talk to her. The examples of this are endless.
I was intrigued by the idea of sacrifice to God so I looked around and came upon Malachi 1:6-14 which is basically Malachi pointing out the sins of the priests in the way they were offering sacrifices to God. What they were offering on the alter to God they wouldn't even have offered to their own governor. He wouldn't have accepted it! The type of sacrifice they deemed 'worthy' of God were lame or blind animals and defiled food. I was incensed when I read that thinking, "How dare they offer the least of their things to Him! Don't they know who God is and what He deserves."
But, as my righteous indignation waned, I realized I'm guilty of the same indiscretions. There are days when I crave sleep and then force my Bible study into a fifteen minute period where I'm also in the middle of at least three other things. I sit down to pray and suddenly, a half an hour later, I realize I've been making a To-Do list in my head for at least twenty of those minutes. I show up to church and allow the stress of my week or personal life to seep into my thoughts so, instead of being encouraged or focusing on areas in which to grow, I come away looking more at myself then at Christ.
How dare I offer myself to God in that way. Don't I know who He is and what He deserves?
Ah, the painful irony. But, in the pain is an understanding; an awareness. These times of selfish interest should propel me to seriously evaluate my heart and where it's at in everything I do. I desire to "Honor the Lord from [my] wealth and from the first of all my produce"(Prov.3:9) and to offer up to him a "broken spirit...(and) contrite heart"(Psalm 51:17) and ultimately to "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15). I want my worship of Him (really, my life) to show sacrifices for His glory - made potentially at the expense of what's easy. It's all right there in those verses. The sacrifice, the author of Hebrews explains, is the fruit (the result) of lips that give thanks to Him. To sacrifice to God is to give Him the first fruits (the best) of what you have or receive. To have a broken heart and contrite spirit is to be humble before the Lord.
I pray that these things will define my praise and worship to Him. That, when tempted to take the easy route and offer up things that cost me nothing, I will resist and instead ask of the Lord what He desires as my sacrifice of praise and then give it gladly, in spite of the cost, and through His grace.