A RECENT SURVEY ABOUT CHRISTMAS GIFTS found that the fruitcake was chosen most often (31 percent of respondents) from a list of “worst” holiday gifts. It even finished ahead of “no gift at all”! When asked how to dispose of such a bad gift, 30 percent said they would hide it in a closet, 21 percent would return it, and 19 percent would give it away.
If gifts are significant, what gifts are we to bring to God? If God made out a wish list of what He considers really good, what items might He include?
I fear that too much of what we bring to God —including even our attempt to bring gifts of worship to Him—may resemble the proverbial fruitcake more than the preferred righteousness of the heart. Like a last-minute purchase from the bargain table near the register, we hurriedly fulfill our religious duties in the cheapest way possible, seek to give them to someone else to do, or make ourselves as invisible as possible lest we be asked to serve in ways we think are beneath our dignity.
The prophet Micah reflected on what God truly desires when he said, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).
In contrast with the multiple animal sacrifices of his day, or even the idea that a firstborn child might atone for one’s sins (v. 7), Micah revealed that what God desires has more to do with the heart.
First, God wants His people not just to practice justice, but also to promote it. Second, His people are to love mercy. This means that He wants them to mirror in their relationships with Himself and others the same loyal love God always demonstrates in faithfully fulfilling His covenants. Third, God desires a humble walk before Him. The Hebrew word translated “humbly” implies a careful or modest walk before God. Knowing that God wants our hearts more than any offerings—or even a firstborn child—ought to cause us all to live more cautiously. Ralph Waldo Emerson was correct when he said, “The only gift is a portion of thyself.” What are you giving to God? Is it a fruitcake, or is it your very self? When God unwraps His gift from you, will He want to return it, discard it, or rejoice in it because it really is a good gift?