Beyond Scraps

Our Offering: Beyond Scraps to Honoring God with Our Best

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
Steve Prefontaine

“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather, we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do.”
In the middle of the night, I saw a vision of people hurriedly piecing together a makeshift banner, scrambling to assemble this ramshackle sign with its haphazard, lopsided form. They sought to create a beacon for all to see, yet it was scrappily constructed. As they stepped back, admiring their work, many proceeded to praise and congratulate each other because it was “done for the Lord.” Yet, in my spirit, I was grieved and compelled to pray and seek meaning behind the deficient banner. The makeshift banner became a metaphor for our imperfect choices, the deficient quality of our offerings to God, and how often we relegate the King of Heaven merely remnants scraped together in spare moments or what is conveniently available and not the first and best He deserves. Though Proverbs 3:9-10 urges us to honor the Lord with our wealth and first fruits so our storehouses may be filled, too often in the distraction of daily life, we pursue our own plans first, tacking God on as an afterthought to our plans and aspirations. Do we offer Him our best, or have we allowed the trivial to supersede the eternal? When scrambling to assemble what remains, are these genuinely our first fruits, or have we offered the Lord merely the scraps?

The Imperative of Honor
At its essence, honor is highly valuing and esteeming another. Yet true honor transcends visible worship to permeate all we do, the cultures we embrace, the people we promote, and the values we elevate. Scripture reminds us that through Christ we have died to self, now living for Him alone as the anchor of existence: A life now wholly surrendered to and directed by Jesus (Galatians 2:20). We are to offer continual sacrifice of praise to God, doing good and sharing with others (Hebrews 13:15-16). Our bodies become living sacrifices as we reject worldly conformity, embracing the renewal of thought to align with God’s will (Romans 12:1-2). Thus honoring God requires reorienting all priorities to make His ways our habits, His will our compass, and His worship the axis around which our lives spin. It is an ongoing realignment process to make every thought, word, and deed reflect His values and bring Him glory. All that we are must point to the One for whom we now live.
The truth is that despite good intentions, our priorities tend to become eclipsed by crowded schedules and personal goals, relegating God to the outskirts. Swept up in the urgency of tasks, church, devotions, and service, these cornerstones of worship sink into the margins. Only later, once to-do lists shorten, do we hurriedly offer God the spare remnants of resources or time. Yet these scraps reflect compromised motives, substituting leftovers rather than the first fruits deserved by One Perfect in devotion. Like that fragmented banner in the vision, cobbled together in the eleventh hour, our divided efforts showcase spiritual half-heartedness. In our hustle, we fail to honor God first, unable to grasp that our crooked offerings, full of odds and ends, still reflect hearts askew. For if He anchored the center, would not our lives orbit wholly around Him—our time, talents, and treasures circling back in gratitude?

Private Devotion, Public Reflection
The banner’s very flaws challenge not just the quality of our offerings, but the motives behind them. As Jesus warned, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:1, ESV). If acclaim drives our actions, what happens when no eyes watch? Do we live bifurcated lives— honoring God when visible, then disregarding Him in the shadows? Are we seeking to please God or human applause? Does devotion thrive solely under others’ gaze or persist in private? Just as deficiencies marred that banner, unseen by its makers, so do hidden failings and rotten motives lurk within. Though outward acts can reflect inward devotion, the spotlight test reveals much, whether roots anchor in soil nourishing a faith thriving as much out of public view as on display for all to praise. Our offerings, though imperfect, must arise from a heart focused on pleasing God alone, not performing to garner the glance of other eyes.
Why does God request first fruits rather than remnants? As Creator, the earth and its contents are His (Psalm 24:1), meaning our lives and resources are not truly our own. By rights of ownership, His authority reigns supreme over all we manage. To offer God leftovers implies self still occupies the throne within and the Creator is valued less than created things. It signals a lack of trust in His faithful provision after pursuing fleeting worldly pleasures first. Such an attitude grieves God who gave heaven’s best to redeem us (John 3:16), showing thanklessness for blessings originating from and relying fully on Him (James 1:17). His jealousy burns against the idolatry of anything that displaces His rightful lordship (Exodus 34:14). As Christ warned, no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). These spiritual scraps expose divided loyalty between self and God. When we place interests above His glory, relegating God to an afterthought, our faithlessness wounds One who loved extravagantly through ultimate sacrifice.

The Challenge of Consistency
True honor lies not in sporadic gestures but consistent commitment, woven through daily life. As Scripture urges, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV). The challenge is infusing each moment with this mindset: Ultimately we serve Christ in every activity, relationship, and responsibility. Our efforts become more than means to an end, but fragrant offerings, testaments to bringing our best before God who oversees all we do. How sobering that even menial tasks unfold under His gaze! As living sacrifices, when we instill such wholehearted devotion consistently into our lives, motivation shifts, and we are no longer merely pleasing ourselves or others but presenting our finest to the Father. This highest tribute of first fruits is His worthy offering. As we honor God first, surrendering that all we manage belongs to Him, Scripture promises He will meet our needs abundantly (Matthew 6:33). Like a reciprocal covenant gesture, He fills storehouses to overflowing because the seed of honorable worship and steadfast sacrifice bears fruit a hundredfold.

Crafting a Culture of Honor
The deficient banner challenges not just personal devotion but the broader culture we choose to embrace and promote. What values do we elevate and who do we promote in public and private spheres? As Paul urges, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8, ESV). The call is clear: We must cultivate a culture aligned with honor and excellence and champion what aligns with God’s glory, not simply what entertains or avails itself conveniently. As we usher others into His presence, our offerings should reflect the utmost excellence to please the King. This means elevating principles over personalities, truths over trivialities, and ethics over that which merely entertains. To scrape together meager resources reveals a willingness to settle for mediocrity. Yet, as children of the Most High, we are to reflect His excellence. Thus our public and private offerings must arise from noble motivations to honor Christ alone, not from what garners the glance of human eyes.

Bringing Our Best in Private
The banner’s flaws challenge us beyond public expressions into the private worth of our offerings when no eyes watch. It is tempting to live bifurcated lives: Saintly when visible, yet sinful in seclusion. But in quiet moments, away from acclaim, do we still bring our best to God? Do we honor Him as fully in private as in public, or do good intentions wither in solitude? God sees the hidden person of the heart, desiring devotion thriving not just publicly but seamlessly into private spheres as well, steadfast in all settings. Our offerings, though imperfect, must arise as authentic sacrifices from within, not merely external shows. True life flows from inward fullness. Let Psalm 139:23-24 become our guide: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (ESV). For as that banner’s flaws, though unnoticed by its makers, so do deficiencies mar our hidden lives. Yet may we live integrated lives flowing from inward integrity and a devotion undefiled shining as brightly in private depths as on public display.

The Transformative Power of Genuine Honor
As we navigate life’s intricacies, the deficient banner becomes a reminder that we are called to move beyond scraps to offer our whole selves as living sacrifices. In doing so, we align with Scripture, “For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11, ESV). Honor requires persistent focus to offer God our first fruits, starting by nurturing inner lives through spiritual disciplines. As we abide in Christ, transformation occurs and we become living monuments of devotion. Then outward offerings flow seamlessly as extensions of inward fullness. No longer bifurcated lives or fragmented faith, but integrated worship with who we are reflecting who He is. Our minds, bodies, and spirits are aligned in sacrifice. Our imperfect but intentional offerings pave the way for restoration and a place where the Most High is honored through wholehearted praise arising globally from each tongue, tribe, and nation.

The banner stands as a sobering reminder to examine whether our priorities reflect hearts inclined to offer God the first and finest. Let it inspire a journey for us all to take stock of where we have settled for mediocrity when called to excellence. As we realign priorities to honor God with our best, the mundane glistens with sacred potential. Every moment becomes worship when the King is enthroned within. This transformation cultivates lives that consistently reflect Christ whether in whispered thoughts or shouted praise, all is yielded to His glory. Our imperfect yet sincere offerings ascend like incense, as we fix eyes on the pleasure of God above all else. Then slowly, sincerely, we begin to live our prayer: “O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand and is all Your own.” (1 Chronicles 29:14-16, ESV). When honoring God becomes our singular desire, our talents, our treasures, and our toil poured out in tribute, as His banner of love draws all people to partake of His divine goodness.

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