From the last book of the Old Testament we learn an immeasurably precious wisdom.
We read from the prophet Malachi (Mal 1:6-14) that God demands and accepts only our very best as sacrifice for him.
Oh, this sounds stuffy, difficult, demanding; how can God be so cruel, isn't this the opposite of a good and generous father? Such might be our reaction.
Let's hold on and look at it closely. First, I need to trust that it is the God of love who is giving this command, meaning, God's motivation for this command is his love for us. He wants our best, therefore, he asks for our best. Paradoxical?
What is the best I can give? What is the most valuable you have? Does God need animals, money, my friends, my skills … no, none of these. He has created all things and can create all things he wants. There is nothing I could give to him that he could not make by himself.
So if there is something he asks from me, then it is, in fact, not for him, but for me, for my own benefit. Still paradoxical!
What is the best I can give to God? Let's find out.
Imagine the last moment of your life – what is it you most long for? One more friend, a bigger house, a little more fame... isn't it rather one more day, one more piece of time to live that you desire most in that moment?
Yes, the most valuable we have, each one of us, is our time. When God is asking to sacrifice our best for him – he wants our time. My time for God's purpose, for his works, for his kingdom. This is the most precious holy sacrifice I can bring to my heavenly Father.
It is still paradoxical, why does the God of love ask for my time, and does not let me use it as I want, for my own purpose?
Because he wants me to live and work joyfully now and in eternity.
How can I live and work joyfully now? When I am sure that the time and strength that I am investing every day is not in vain, not for anything meaningless or perishable, but for the good and lasting purpose.
Yes, of course God allows me to use my time for myself, for my own purpose, my own house and kingdom – but what would be the result? It will all be lost sooner or later.
Knowing this, my life on earth will be restless, full of anxiety and worries, even though I might have some temporary, superficial joy and excitement.
And in eternity my life will be poor and sad, as all the treasures I have worked for so hard are lost.
God knows this, and as he loves us, he wants to save us from deep sorrow and worries. Instead, he wants us to live the life of deep, true joy, here on earth and later in eternity.
Therefore, he asks us to give our time, our greatest treasure, to him as the best we can offer – to make sure it is used in the best and most fruitful way, to our, his, and everyone else's joy.
To give my whole time to God means to give my whole heart. God asks for a full relationship with me, as only in this relationship I will reach the fulness of life.
So let us not bring all our second and third best offerings to God's altar, but let us give to him the most valuable sacrifice we can bring – our time and our heart.
Let us dedicate our life, our youth, our strength, to God and his kingdom, wholeheartedly and joyfully, knowing that this is the best and only way to receive abundant and eternal fruit of joy and love.
And let us never misunderstand our loving Father – when he is demanding anything from us, then it is, in fact, for ourselves to receive what we are deeply longing for.