When my siblings and I reached school age, it was made very clear to us that a C was an unacceptable grade. Our parents believed that if we applied ourselves and did our very best, there was no reason to EVER bring home a C. B’s were not accepted either, any B we received had to come up to an A the next grading period. My parents required nothing less from us, and it was disrespectful not to comply.
Needless to say, grade card time was not looked forward to in our household. We would have to lay our grade cards before our parents for inspection. If they felt it was not good enough, we got in trouble. Of course, any show of an attitude or defending a bad grade was unacceptable. If we had a good grade card, we got a little praise and were told to keep it up. The only tangible reward was 25 cents an A which later raised to a dollar to keep us incentivized.
Just as my parents expected us to give our very best, so does God. An example of this can be found in Genesis in the story of the brothers – Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. The Bible says that Cain brought some of his harvest, and Abel brought forth the best that he had and they both offered their gifts to God. God accepted Abel’s gift, but not Cain’s.
Why? Because Cain did not bring his best to God and because he didn’t, it was an indication he did not have the right heart. From the story told in Genesis, you get the impression Cain kept the best for himself and gave God something less. Cain either did not recognize or care that God was the reason for his bountiful harvest. Yet, Abel brought the best to God showing he recognized that his good fortune came from the Lord.
It is no different today. When we don’t bring our best to the Lord, we are no better than Cain. We are placing more importance on ourselves and our desires and not on God. Sometimes we go through the motions of religion, but lack the heart behind it. Like Cain, we forget who truly loves us, takes care of us and brings good things into our lives.
The season of Lent is a time when you think about something you can give up to honor Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. While it is an honorable and worthy practice, it is also important to make sure that you are bringing your best to Him. Assessing your life and seeing where you can improve in relating to the Lord is a good place to start. There may be something you need to add to your life to move toward having a better relationship with Him. How can you give your best if you don’t know Him and what pleases Him or what He expects? It does you no good to give something up for Lent if you don’t even know who the Lord really is.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 MSG