While my family enjoys leftover turkey dishes, God most emphatically does not like leftovers.
If you are a gardener, you understand the concept of first-fruits. The first pickings, like the first serving of turkey, are always the best. By the end of the summer the beans are tough, the corn is starchy, the squash is wormy, and the tomatoes are small and hard or half-rotten. That is why you doll them up in casseroles and sauces. I always make the tomato sauce in July. The June tomatoes are ripe, sweet and juicy, far too good to turn into sauce.
God has always expected the first-fruits from His people. The first of the first-fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of Jehovah your God, Ex 23:19. He expected the first-fruits of everything to be given to His servants, the priests, who waited on Him night and day, And this shall be the priests' due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep, that they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw. The first-fruits of your grain, of your new wine, and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, shall you give him, Deut 18:3,4.
The Israelites in Malachi’s day discovered exactly how God felt about offerings that were less than the best. You offer polluted bread upon my altar. And you say, Wherein have we polluted you? In that you say, The table of Jehovah is contemptible. And when you offer the blind for sacrifice, it is no evil! And when you offer the lame and sick, it is no evil! Present it now to your governor; will he be pleased with you? Or will he accept you? says Jehovah of hosts, Mal 1:7,8..
We usually cite these verses when it comes time to put money in the plate. Certainly we should be planning ahead, “purposing in our hearts” what we will give to God, rather than reaching for the leftover change in our pockets. But what about the rest of our “offerings?”
Too many of us give God our leftover time. Rather than planning to pray and study, scheduling time in the week to care for our brothers and sisters in need, and putting our assemblies at the top of our agendas, we wait till we have finished what we consider necessary, then look to see if we can give any time and energy to God. Usually it is too late, or we are too tired, or something else that really cannot be rescheduled takes the last few minutes of our day. If there is time, we are tired, our energy flagging and our concentration poor. No wonder some of the children I have taught in Bible classes treat the concept of a family Bible study as something unheard of. No wonder the adults in Bible classes sit close-mouthed with little to offer to edify their brothers and sisters, or spout out something that even a quick study of scripture would prove to be wrong.
It only makes sense for us to give God our best. God has given us His best too, an only begotten Son, the firstfruits of them that are asleep, 1 Cor 15:20, as a hope of the resurrection.
God not only expects us to give our first-fruits, he expects us to be one. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures, James 1:18. Maybe that is the problem—our lives do not match the concept. Instead, we are the blemished fruit, the tough, small, wormy, and half-rotten. How can we give God anything else when that is all we have to offer? This business of leftover offerings covers far more than the collection plate, far more than we would like to believe.
Turkey leftovers are one thing. They have a place, especially in the lives of those trying to be good stewards of their blessings. But leftovers in my service to God might as well be fed to the dog.
Honor Jehovah with your substance, and with the first-fruits of all your increase: So shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your vats shall overflow with new wine, Prov 3:8,9.