On Thursday we took at look at Leviticus 2 and how our offerings to the Lord must be completely free of “yeast” – sin, selfish ambition, legalism and pride; but must contain plenty of “salt” — we are to be a reflection of Him in all that we do, for in so doing, we will influence our world for God’s Kingdom!
The very next chapter of Leviticus gives us another command that may seem a bit strange in our day and age: All the fat of a sacrifice was to be given to the Lord: “…This includes all the fat around the internal organs, the two kidneys and the fat around them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver. These must be removed with the kidneys, and the priest will burn them on the altar. It is a special gift of food, a pleasing aroma to the Lord. All the fat belongs to the Lord. You must never eat any fat or blood.” (Leviticus 3:14b-17 NLT)
Although this chapter speaks specifically of something called a “Peace Offering”, or as translated in some English Bible versions, a “Fellowship Offering”, we do see the same admonition to burn the fat on the altar for all of the sacrifices. Why the fat? And what does this have to do with MY sacrifices? After all, I don’t make animal sacrifices, so there is no literal fat to give!
To understand this, let’s review for a moment what we know about fat. Fatty tissues in the body are actually just storage tanks. When our caloric intake is more than we need, the body stores away the excess as body fat. Conversely, when our caloric intake is less than we need, due to dieting, fasting, famine, etc., the body will burn the fat that is has accumulated in the times of plenty.
Fat can be classified in three different ways: “Visceral” – body fat stored within the abdominal cavity around a number of important body organs; “Subcutaneous” – the fat visible just under the skin; and “Intramuscular” – the fat located inside skeletal muscle fibers. This “intramuscular” fat is what we generally find in meats. Although it is perhaps not the healthiest, it is not the kind of fat that God is very specific about burning on the altar. Rather, all of the fat that God specifies falls into the category of “visceral” fat. When the Bible tells us that we are never to “eat” (use for ourselves) any fat, it isn’t necessarily telling us that we have to stay away from all fat in our food (though most of us would benefit from eating less of it!); rather, it is telling us that the excess that we have doesn’t belong to us! It belongs to God!
What does this have to do with our sacrifices – gifts to God of our time, our talent, our resources and our worship?
It means that when God gives us in excess, that excess belongs to Him! It is to be used for HIS purposes, as HE dictates!
Let’s take a practical look at this.
What if I finished my to-do list an hour earlier than anticipated? I would have a choice: I could curl up with a favorite book or a movie, or I could spend the hour writing a devotional God placed on my heart. The surprise free time is my “fat”, my excess. I can “eat” it myself, or I can “sacrifice” that time by giving it to the Lord in prayer or ministry.
Another example: Let’s say that you are a very talented musician. You could simply play the piano and guitar for your own amusement and stress management; or you could join the worship team at church.
A real-life example: Years ago I had a Golden Retriever girl dog. At the right time of the year, I took her to see a Golden Retriever boy dog, and a few weeks later, we had a litter of puppies. The fee for the boy dog’s services was the price of a puppy, and I had prepaid the owner what I was planning on asking for each puppy. Because of some extensive vet bills involved with this litter of puppies, and because it was Christmas time and puppies were in high demand, I ended up asking $100.00 more for each puppy. The extra money paid the vet bill with $100.00 to spare. That $100.00 was my “fat”. Since I was supposed to give the owner of the boy dog all the money from one puppy, however, that extra money really belonged to her, and instead of keeping it for myself, I sent it to her. She didn’t know I had asked an extra $100.00 per pup, nor did she realize I actually owed her an extra $100.00. That money was therefore also her “fat”, her excess. She also decided to not “eat” it, but instead gave it to a poor family who wouldn’t have had a Christmas otherwise.
Bottom line is, when God gives us excess, it is so that we have something to sow back into the Kingdom of God. This doesn’t mean that it is wrong to watch TV or to relax and do things that we find pleasing, as long as it is done to the glory of God (See 1 Cor. 10:13). What is wrong, however, is to keep all of our time, our talents, our resources and our worship for ourselves. It is wrong to “store them up”. Rather, God asks us to “sacrifice” our excess and sow it back into the Kingdom of God.
So how should our sacrifices look? Besides being completely free of “yeast” – sin, selfish ambition, legalism and pride; besides containing plenty of “salt” – reflecting Jesus and influencing the world for God’s Kingdom; we must also willingly give God all of our excess, that it may be sown back into the Kingdom of God!
Join us on Tuesday for “What Is in YOUR Sacrifice?” Part 3 for another lesson on sacrifice from Leviticus: “Perpetual Fire”
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “What’s in YOUR Sacrifice?” miniseries, please click here!)