Psalm 51:16-17 - For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Once upon a time, a Christian church was having a food drive. You know, the kind of program where the congregation was asking people to give canned goods, boxed goods, things that -- like Hostess Twinkies -- had a "forever" shelf-life.
One mother, with her six-year-old, was going through her pantry. As she shuffled things around, she came across a bottle of beets. She brought those out. She found some condensed milk, which was also set aside. Lastly, she found some lima beans and placed that can with the other two.
Surveying her gifts, mom said to her daughter, "There, that will do, and we won't miss these things; nobody here likes them."
It took but a second for the girl to politely ask, "But if we give them only what we don't want, aren't they helping us?"
Well, that may have been the case at a Cardiff food bank in Wales, Great Britain. The workers at the place were shocked to get a can of soup with unusual markers on the label. An examination of the price tag said the soup had been sold so long ago the country was using a different currency.
The soup, Heinz kidney soup, was 46 years old. That type of soup itself had been discontinued more than 35 years before. In the same donation, was a can of Green Giant sweet corn whose label revealed it was a recent newcomer, having been canned in the 1980s.
In spite of the shock, the manager of the food bank put the best construction on the gift when she stated, "It's out of a generous heart, but I just think they don't think and don't necessarily look at the dates." They are keeping both cans to educate folks on what people shouldn't give.
You know, I wonder how the Lord scans the gifts which come in for Him.
The story of the widow's mites tell us God doesn't look with disfavor on gifts which flow from a solid, sincere heart. He certainly is more impressed by those donations than He is by all those who gave a bunch, but are only sacrificing a small percentage of the bounty the Lord has bestowed.
The Psalmist tells us the Lord, who really owns everything, is not all that interested in sacrifices which cost a few coins, but leaves the individual untouched. Nor is the Lord going to be overwhelmed by a burnt sacrifice, which is only some individual going through the motions.
What the Lord wants, first, foremost, and always is a Christian heart which has seen the Savior's sacrifice and is moved to respond. That response may be shown through financial gifts, but it always finds its source in a broken and contrite heart.
When we take a look at where we once were headed eternally and where we are going now, we should be touched with gratitude. When we see the Savior who left a heavenly throne to die on a cruel cross, we cannot help responding with a life of thanks and praise which begins in a new heart.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, accept our hearts which, having been cleansed of sin's stain by the Savior's sacrifice, are willing to respond. May our gratitude, like Your grace and love, be undying. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Daniel Uria for the UPI on October 7, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: click here.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries