A hen and a pig approached a church and read the sermon topic, "What can we do to help the poor?" Immediately, they both felt convicted and wanted to help. The hen suggested they give bacon and eggs. The pig thought it sounded good, but then realized one thing was wrong with the suggestion, "For you to give eggs requires only a contribution, but for me to give bacon requires a total commitment." Far too many times, Christians are prone to merely make a contribution, rather than a commitment or sacrifice. We have created a nation that practices convenience over commitment, comfort over character, and compromise over conviction. Our commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ should require us to give our best to Him in all areas of our life.
What does God have to say about excellence? What are His requirements of a sacrifice? We are to bring to God the "sacrifice of praise"(Heb. 13:15). We are to present ourselves unto God," a living and holy sacrifice" as a "spiritual service of worship"(Ro. 12:1). Excellence must be at the heart of our service. Sacrifices are always to represent the best that the faithful worshipper has, not some poor specimen given with the condescending attitude that says, "That’s enough for God,” or “God will understand." One thing that stands out in Leviticus 1:10 is that the offerings in the Old Testament, whether bulls, goats, lambs, or doves, were to be the best, the finest in the flock-the unblemished ones. Unfortunate, sometimes God's people try to find a short cut, something not so costly, that will appease God. Malachi 1:8 & 14 tells us," But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly? says the Lord of hosts. (14) But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock, and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and My name is feared among the nations." Excellence has a price. It does not come cheaply. Paul says in Col. 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."
Howard Hendricks said, "Talent is cheap; dedication is costly!" The church today needs to hear this message, for we are in danger of producing a manageable mediocrity, one whose slogan is, "Anything is good enough for God." Our biggest fear should be that we hear God’s Word and walk away, content to settle for less than what God desires. Are we taking Jesus and the Bible and twisting it into a version that fits our comfort zone and not what God desires? Have we become the nice, middle-class, followers of Jesus who enjoy the label of being a Christian, but don’t want our spiritual life to affect our material comfort and are satisfied with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our personal comforts? The trouble has become that we are trying to model Jesus into our life, rather than becoming “conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Ro 8:29).
God is calling us to a higher standard than the standard of the world- a call to giving our best to Him! God does not hold us accountable for another's abilities and opportunities, just our own. In Matt. 25 our Lord speaks to the importance of being faithful in using our talents wisely. The faithful slaves were rewarded, because they had realized their potential and were productive, even though they were not equally blessed. None of us are equally blessed and gifted, but the Lord rightly expects excellence and a proportionate return from each investment. Remember, the Biblical principle of sacrifice and giving offerings recognized that all will bring equal sacrifices, but all must bring their best!
To be good in the area of service to which we are called costs something. We are not to offer to God that which costs nothing. God wants and desires the best from us. Never let the good be an enemy to the best. If we are moderately gifted, our service will probably be little more than moderately good; our best is all God expects. If we are extremely gifted, we could "get by" with little practice and would probably be better than most anyone else. But it would fall short of our best, and God would know that we gave half-heartedly. Thus, we are to give of our best to our Master- our God.
Pastor Mike Kotrla