In a culture where hospitality is so important Solomon would have gone to great lengths to make his visitors feel welcomed and honoured. We do the same here in England, and in many other countries. My husband and I have experienced incredible hospitality in very simple homes in Uganda, where there’s obviously been sacrificial generosity in our honour. In this country I also remember being invited to a simple meal of beans on toast for Sunday lunch after church one day. It wasn’t at all a dry crust, it was certainly given with love, and we had a great afternoon of fun and fellowship.
What’s being talked about here is true in the physical sense, if we take these verses literally. A beautiful meal served with bitterness would stick in our throat! But on a deeper level I believe the writer of these verses is talking about our relationship with God. God certainly doesn’t want showy religious sacrifice when our hearts are wrong (indeed He hates this and tells us this is worthless). But these verses also imply that it’s good when we give God whatever we have, even if it’s small and seemingly insignificant. It’s something He can use and multiply. This could mean giving in terms of money, but also giving him our gifts, our abilities, our personalities and our time. What we are able to give may not seem much to us, and we may think that other people could offer so much more, but God looks on our heart, and when He sees love there and a desire to please Him then He’s delighted.
Again and again in Scripture we read that God detests religious ritual which is done out of duty, or to impress man, or even self. We sometimes talk about a ‘religious spirit’ when we come across this religious legalism. It has nothing to do with reaching the heart of God. So let’s examine ourselves and have the courage to give God everything we have, even when it seems unworthy, meagre and useless. If it comes from our heart it will go straight to the centre of His heart.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times when I’ve felt that whatever I’ve given You isn’t good enough, and hasn’t been accepted by You. Forgive me for holding back out of fear, or low self- worth. Help me to understand that when I give from my heart You’re delighted and can use it to further Your kingdom here on earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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