Advent – What do I have to offer?

My great-grandparents had an old dog named George.  He was not exactly friendly; as a matter of fact, he was a cantankerous old dog.  After dinner my great-grandmother would take some of the table scraps and mix it with his dog food.  He loved all of it, especially the brown gravy and he protected his bowl from anyone he thought might try to steal his meal.  If you got close while George was eating he would growl at you.  If you got too close to George while he was eating, he would bite you.  One of my younger brothers has the scare to prove it!  I share this story with you, of course, to make a point.  George didn’t get to eat at the table with us.  We got to eat first and we ate the best and most of the food.  George got the left overs if there was anything leftover.

Now I am not calling God an old dog but how many of us treat God like he was George.  Each of our households lives off of resources that come from our hard work and our investment.  And because of that we “feast” on them taking the very best to satisfy our appetites for more.

More shoes…

More clothes…

More video games…

More space…

More, more, more, more.  I read a statistic recently that said that the size of an average family has been on a steady decline over the last three decades.  Our family unit is getting smaller and smaller.  But over the last three decades the average size of a house has gone up by 41%.  Smaller families with more space.  I know that the last three houses we have lived in have all been bigger than the house I grew up in.

The story in Matthew says that men from the east travelled a great distance to come and worship the newborn king of the Jews.  They were following a star, an astrological phenomenon that signified to them the birth of royalty.  The writer of the gospel says that when they saw the star stop over the house they were filled with great joy.  When they entered the place that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were staying they bowed to worship him – Immanuel – God with us!  And then they presented to him the finest they had to offer.  They were gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Think about this for a minute – they did not have to come to see Jesus.  They were not obligated to travel and visit him and they were not obligated to give him anything – but they did!  They encountered the very Son of God and they responded with the very best they had to offer.

This Christmas season we celebrated our traditions.  You probably repeated the same pattern that you have repeated for years – Christmas is almost routine.

I hope that you encountered the Son of God – Jesus, who came and dwelt among us as God who was and still is with us.  But more importantly, I hope that you have been convinced that you need to give him your very best.  Not out of obligation, but because you have met the very Son of God and your life has never been the same since.  The very best we have to give in our time, our talent, and our treasure isn’t because we have to, but because we are compelled to.  It is a response born out of love and gratitude, not out of begrudging contrition.

God is not an old dog like George who should be satisfied with the scraps that we throw his way.  God deserves our finest – the best we have to offer from the first fruits of our labor and then we live off of what is remaining.

Tithing of your time, your spiritual gifts, and your money is not easy but it is the only true way to honor God and the gift of his Son, Jesus the Christ.  May the Holy Spirit speak powerfully into your heart and life and may you respond to God’s invitation to give to him your very best because we all have that to offer to him.

About Jim Hoffman

Pastor, teacher, leader, novice blogger, wanna be author and Christian conversationalist. Passionate about environmental architecture - creating spaces where people can foster new or growing relationships with each other and God. Currently leads a faith community on Ward Parkway in Kansas City and happily married to Margaret. Blessed with four adult children and two grandsons.
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