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The Bestest Part Ever!

September 3rd, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 3: 9-10 (NLT)

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
      and with the best part of everything you produce.
 10 Then he will fill your barns with grain,
      and your vats will overflow with good wine.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My daughter Sadie entered the world as an instant superstar . . . in our family at least.  The journey of pre-parenting brought out many things in my psyche that I had no clue existed there.  As a guy (and a quite masculine one at that), there were many subjects that never piqued my interest before. Room color schemes.  What particular shade of pink best works with “celery ice” green?  Wood quality of baby furniture. Which videos best stimulate the sensory and cognitive development of my little princess with just the right meshing of sight and sound?  Yeah, you could say that my interests drastically changed.

At the center of the baby-detail kaleidoscope is the fact that I want the best for my daughter.  Now, obviously this begins with safety.  I obviously want the “best” car seat because it will provide more protection for her in the case of an accident.  The best baby mattress will help ensure her safety as she sleeps at night.  For a daddy, safety comes first and only the best will suffice.

But then the issue of “best” expands into other areas.  Next would be convenience.  Sure, having three separate swings may not be absolutely necessary for her development and survival, but it definitely makes life more convenient when I want to bring her to the office and let her sleepily swing beside my desk as I work (as she is doing right now.)  One swing would do. Two is better.  Three is best.  

The best clothes aren’t just the ones that look the cutest (don’t tell her mommy I said that); they are also the ones that can most quickly be removed in the case of a poop or vomit emergency.  For me, the zipper is superior to the snap.  Why?  Because in that disgusting moment of excrement adrenaline when the “poop hits the fan,” trust me, you want to act rapidly to avoid long-term exposure.  Thus, again only the best will do.

Giving the best to my baby isn’t just about safety, convenience, or even comfort.  In all reality, it’s an issue of adoration.  I’m not really a big spender; in fact, I very rarely make large purchases for myself.  But since Sadie’s arrival, I can be innocently walking through a store or a mall and wake up to find myself unknowingly and unconsciously handing over a wad of cash for some outfit or toy that caught my eye.  It’s as if a trance overtakes me and forces me to purchase completely unnecessary items that Sadie doesn’t even notice at this point in her short life.  Still, I sincerely desire to adorn her . . . to shower her with the very best that my limited income and imagination can provide.

Money is a very polarizing subject, especially in the context of religion. This passage and verses like it are often used by ministers to motivate people to give in the offering or to make a donation for a certain project or cause. For whatever reason, people sometimes become weary of money talks.  I suppose it’s because we all have money issues to face.  Financial stressors affect almost everyone and they aren’t confined to adulthood.  Sixteen year-olds are seemingly as stressed about their empty wallets and overdue car payments as thirty-five year olds are about their insurance premiums and mortgage invoices.  Thus, trying to squeeze the concept of giving into an already overcrowded emotional state only seems to force out emotions that are less than positive to say the least.  We just feel tapped.

But giving to the Lord isn’t an issue of His need.  It’s not the value of a dollar or the value of an hour that He requires, it’s the value of our adoration.  “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”  

Wealth?  I don’t have any wealth!  Ah, but you do.  Your personal value is the return that He wants on His divine investment.  Not for the purpose of filling His heavenly coffers; no, for the purpose of filling your life with His riches.  Not seemingly possessing anything to give is not as valid of an excuse as you might think for not giving.  Why?  Because even a person who possesses empty pockets still owns something of value- things you “produce.” Time.  Energy.  Heart.  Compassion.  Work ethic.  

However, I don’t want to over-illustrate this concept and take it out of its original context: we also have financial things to give.  The amount is not the measurement that matters; the adoration for the Father is what’s being quantified.  That’s why we are encouraged to give our “best.”

If I’m being honest, this is a very difficult truth in my own life that I am far from learning.  I can’t count the nights that I plop down in exhaustion from the day’s madness and feel as if I haven’t given God my best time, energy, money, or emotions.  Now since my guilt complexes could add multiple chapters to psychology textbooks, I’ve had to learn that the “adoration factor” of my giving to God is a two-way street. In other words, in my moment of exhaustion and imperfection, God is still giving me His best.  His best grace.  His best rest.  His best protection.  

So, giving my best shouldn’t be an obsessive act that is performed to ensure I receive His best.  Giving for the sole purpose of receiving is simply a business agreement, not an intimate relationship.  Truth be told, His best is still being given to me in this moment regardless of whether or not my best is being returned. So instead of guilt or obsession, I want to simply adore Him back with my best.  My best financial gift.  My best time.  My best emotions.  My best life.

Just because we shouldn’t set out to give for the sole purpose of receiving doesn’t mean that we won’t receive.  That’s the second part of this passage: “Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.”  Contextually, this simply means that when you give the best, you receive the best.  We are the only ones who can accurately examine ourselves to determine who gets the best part of our lives.  I encourage you to take a moment today and shower God with the best you have to offer.  When you love Him, only the best will do.


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