Is this not the fast which I choose…Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh [and blood]? Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:6-8 (selected)
I have given up many things “for God” in my life (some successfully and others not)—my quick temper, refined sugar, Goodwill shopping, fear and unbelief, certain friends. But there was another classification of those things I also gave up “to God”—my kids, certain family members, my talents, my home. I realized that the first group all carried areas of sin, faithlessness, or idolatry, whereas the second group was the good things from God that I cherished, yet I still was asked to “offer them back.”
There is such a fine line between the things we cherish and the things we idolize, but which one is the acceptable offering to God? And how can we make sure the things we cherish do not become our idols?
Throughout the Bible, the principle is to sacrifice your best to God, and send your sin and idols away from you. Put your cherished on the altar; send your sin and idolatry into a wilderness somewhere.
The “Scapegoat”: Two goats were selected for the Day of Atonement, the unblemished goat to be offered on the altar of sacrifice, and the scapegoat onto whom the sins of the people were symbolically transmitted by tying a red string to its horns. The scapegoat was then sent into the wilderness.
Cain and Abel: Abel was the righteous son who became the first martyr and a worthy sacrifice to God, while Cain was sent away to roam the earth.
Isaac and Ishmael: Isaac, the son of the promise-Abraham’s most treasured blessing in all the world-became the offering of a lifetime to God on the altar of sacrifice. Ishmael, the son of the slave woman, was sent away into the wilderness.
So what is a worthy sacrifice? That which is good in our lives, provided by God himself, is the most worthy sacrifices of all. It is only through offering those things most precious to us that we keep from turning them into idols—our kids, our time, our money, our talents, our mate, our home, our health, our possessions—whatever it is that we cherish, we must continually make it available for God’s purposes and will.
What good thing in your life do you sense God asking you to offer to Him as a worthy sacrifice? He gave His best for you, will you give your best to Him?