Have you ever gotten a gift you didn’t need, or better yet, didn’t really want? You smile nicely, (‘cuz that’s what your mom taught you to do), and find something, anything, nice to say about it, (“oh, my, these earrings will match perfectly with the stain I can’t get out of my favorite shirt when my granddaughter…”).
I admit, I have a stash—a small one, so be kind to me—of items to use as “re-gifts”, you know, as things to give away at a party or what not. ‘Fess up, ladies, you have it too. At least, if you’re on a limited budget and/or are a frugal recycler who has cast off the collar and leash of guilt a long time ago when it comes to gifts, (“but that was from dear Aunt Betsy!”) Well, dear Aunt Betsy may have a larger piece of property to hoard such things. Me? I’m still storing stuff for my 30-somethings who are now strewn around the globe.
As wonderful as it is when people give of themselves sacrificially to another, what really makes it meaningful is when they take to time to find out what the person on the receiving end really wants or needs. That’s when the giving actually becomes about the one who is on the receiving end, not about the one who is doing the giving.
But again, that takes T-I-M-E. And one of the best ways—ever—to honor anyone, is with our time, because that is a gift that can never be regained.
So when God wanted His people to show Him honor, He spelled it out:
“In honor of the LORD your God,…”
- Annually celebrate the Passover,
- At a specified time of year,
- In a specified place,
- In a specified way (particular sacrifices and meals),
- For a specified length of time,
- With specified prohibitions
- Even with specified meal preparation instructions, and timing of the meal!!
(For someone who doesn’t even use recipes, I’d be deep do-do. But that’s beside the point.)
It’s not that God was needing a party in His honor complete with animal sacrifices and gifts and offerings. What all this was intended to be was a celebration of remembering what God had done for His special people in the past, and what He promised to do for them and be for them in the future!
It was about relationship, like celebrating my anniversary with Bob. (Which is today, honey, BTW, just sayin’…)
Unfortunately, what started with honoring God, ended up in a legalistic contract, and the people lost the relational part.
“O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight….
I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.
But like Adam, you broke my covenant
and betrayed my trust.”
They were bringing God “gifts” He did not want. From the beginning it wasn’t about the bulls and goats and unleavened bread. Those things had significance, but pointed to something much more important: relationship in the form of trusting, loving obedience.
At this point in our marriage, Bob and I don’t need more “stuff” from each other, but maybe I’ll buy him another comic book graphic novel and maybe he’ll buy me some more dirt for my garden, and we’ll be so thankful for another wonderful year together. Yea, us!
What we’re really thankful for is that we have each other’s heart (collective “AWWWW”).
Which is honestly the gift that God is looking for from each of His creation.
Deuteronomy 16:1-8; Hosea 6:4, 6-7 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.