Who doesn’t like presents? Whether it’s Christmas, a birthday or an unplanned, unexpected celebration, we all love to receive and open gifts.
A recent survey of Christmas gifts discovered that the fruitcake was chosen by 31% of respondents as the worst holiday gift. That even surpassed “no gift at all!” When asked how to dispose of such a horrible gift, 30% indicated they would hide it in a closet, 21% would return it and 19% would give it away.
If gifts are so significant, what gifts do we bring to God? Perhaps if God made out a wish list of what He wanted and what He considered to be a really good gift, what items would He list?
I think that perhaps too much of what we bring to God – even including our attempts to bring Him gifts of worship – may resemble the proverbial fruitcake more than the preferred righteousness of the heart. Like a last-minute purchase from the “SALE!” table near the cash register, we hurriedly fulfill our religious duties in the cheapest, least costly way possible, or seek to give them to someone else to do, or make ourselves as invisible as possible lest we be “volunteered” to serve in ways we think are beneath our dignity.
The prophet Micah reflected on what God truly desires when he said, “He has told you, O man, what is good; andwhat does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6.8 ESV)
In contrast to the continual animal sacrifice of his day, or even the idea that a firstborn child might atone for sons (v. 7), Micah revealed that what God desires has more to do with the heart, than with measurable externals.
So what does God want from me? What will please Him?
First, God wants His people not just to speak about justice or even to practice it. He wants us to promote justice.
Second, His people are to love mercy. This mean that He wants His followers to mirror in their relationships with others the same loyal love God always demonstrates in faithfully fulfilling His covenants.
Third, God desires a humble walk before Him. The word translated “humble” implies a careful or modest walk before God.
Knowing that God wants our hearts more than any offering, ought to cause us all to live more cautiously and purposefully. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only gift is a portion of thyself.”
So the question is; what am I giving to God? Is it a spiritual fruitcake, or is it my very self? When God unwraps His gift from you, will He want to return it or rejoice in it because it really is a great gift? It’s just a thought!
Dr. Greg Morris