Nothing But the Best
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It's not easy being queen. So it should come as no surprise that monarchs like Queen Elizabeth like to escape from London sometimes. On one such occasion, the queen asked her chauffeur to take her for a ride in the country. Then she asked him to pull over so she could just take a little walk by herself. No crown, no gown - dressed down. So for those golden moments, the queen was just an ordinary lady, taking a walk in the country. She had gone about a mile down the road when this sudden rain shower opened up. The queen knocked on the door of a small hut that was nearby and she asked the lady if she had an umbrella. The lady actually had two umbrellas - a tattered, battered old umbrella and a brand new one. She gave her beat up umbrella to the queen. The queen promised it would be returned the next day. Well, you've got to imagine the scene as a uniformed chauffeur pulls up in this royal limousine. He goes to the door of the hut and he announces, "I'm returning this for the queen." Needless to say, the woman was in shock. All she could say was, "If I had known it was for the queen, I would have given her my best!"
It's amazing how many people give their least, not their best - to the King, that is. The King. The one an ancient hymn calls the "High King of Heaven." The one the Bible calls the "King of kings and Lord of lords." Oh, we'll stand when they sing that in the "Hallelujah Chorus." We'll really get into singing praise songs to Him, but when it comes to the stuff that really matters in our life, we hold onto the best and give what's left to the King of all kings.
Hanging onto our best - giving the King less than our best is not a new thing. In our word for today from the Word of God in Malachi 1:13-14, God rejects the offerings that His people have been bringing. He had commanded them from the beginning to bring the best of their flocks to Him as an expression of their love for Him. He says: "'When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?' says the Lord. 'Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and My name is to be feared among the nations.'"
Later in this same book, God poses this shocking question, "Will a man rob God?" Then He gives the answer. "Yet you rob Me." When God's people ask how they have robbed Him, He says, "In tithes and offerings." That's one example of withholding your best from the King - by giving Him the money you have left over after you've spent what you really want to spend on yourself. But there are many ways to rob our King. By giving Him your leftover time; by making Him Lord of the things that don't matter that much to you and holding onto the things that you really care about - that relationship, that child, that dream, that favorite thing - that sin. You can rob God by taking on a work for Him and just doing it halfheartedly, by being lazy or irresponsible in getting it done.
So many ways to rob God. So many ways to hold out one hand, offering God some small pieces of your life, and then to keep the other hand behind your back, tightly clinging to what really matters to you. The command of God's Word is unmistakable: "You must present as the Lord's portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you" (Numbers 18:29). Are you? Why should you? Because, as the Bible says, "He did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all" (Romans 8:32). How can I hold onto my best or give it to someone else when God gave His Son for me? It's been said many times, but it says it all: "If He's not Lord of all, He's not Lord at all."