As I read Scripture, often a phrase will “jump out” at me—especially if it is repeated. In Leviticus 21–22, in which God gives instructions to the Israelite priests, I noticed a couple of phrases appearing repeatedly: “I am the Lord who makes them holy,” and “I am the Lord.” The reason the instructions were valid and credible—the reason the priests were to follow them—was because of who gave them. Although Moses gave the instructions to the priests, they didn’t come from him. They weren’t based on his authority. Moses was simply passing on the instructions God gave him.

The priests, who were God’s representatives to the people, had to meet certain standards and act in certain ways that met a standard of “perfection.” And they had to handle the gifts given as offerings in a specified manner that was in keeping with God’s character. The gifts themselves had to meet certain standards. The animals offered to God as sacrifices had to be “perfect” as specified in the Law God gave to Moses. Both animals and priests were, in a sense, “pictures” of a God who is holy, perfect, and undefiled.

The gifts were to be the best the people had—not an afterthought or a left-over. In fact, the Israelites were to give their “firstfruits” (see Exodus 23:16, 19; 34:22, 26). This included not just the crops, but the livestock—and even the firstborn sons (Exodus 13:2)! God was to have the highest priority.

We see a similar priority in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 16:2 we read of Paul’s instruction to the churches of Galatia and Corinth to set apart an offering the first day of the week.

Giving God the priority is, as Romans 12:1 describes it, “our reasonable service” because of who God is and what He’s done for us. After all, He gave His best for us—Jesus, God the Son—to redeem us, to save us, and through whom we can have “life more abundant (John 10:10).”

In view of who God is and all He has done, of course we should give of our best to the Lord. Our relationship with Him needs to be a priority, not a “left-over.” This is not a one-time decision, but one we make every day. Are you making that decision?

by Darrel Eppler, Chairman of the Elder Board

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