Words of Divine Comfort— Octavius Winslow, 1872
“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Malachi 1:14
What a fearful anathema is this? But is it disproportioned to the sin it denounces? It is a fearful thing to attempt to deceive God; and yet how many religionists, unsuspectingly to themselves, are committing this sin! My soul, examine yourself, and see if there is anything in your dealings towards God unreal and deceptive, false and dishonoring; and if so, drag it to the Cross, and by its revealing light, search it out, and by its crucifying power, slay it. But look at this sin. What is it?
It is the sin of making a solemn vow to God, and then attempting to palm upon Him a deception by offering to Him that which is an abomination in His sight. “You brought Me that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus you brought an offering–should I accept this of your hand? says the Lord.” Have you not often offered God a divided heart–a heart divided with the world, or, the creature–while He is presented with but a scanty measurement of that love of which He originally and righteously claims the whole?
O Lord! make my heart and its love true and constant to You! If there be a rival to this, gently, lovingly displace it; that I might give to You, the First and the Best of Beings, the first and the best of my love.
And am I consecrating to God the first and the best of myintellectual powers? Deriving my mind from God, who can strengthen or blight, illumine or darken it, am I consecrating to Him the first and the best of my mental endowments and acquirements? or, am I presenting to Him but the dregs and the drivellings of my intellect; using the first and the best for myself and for the world?
And what of my worldly possessions? Am I giving to the Lord, who has so affluently and freely given to me, a due proportion of my wealth, be it much or little, for the advancement of His truth and kingdom in the world? or, am I casting into His treasury, with a stinted and begrudged hand–calculating not how much, but how little I can devote to His glory, of that which is all His own? Will He not say, “Who has required this at your hand? I cannot endure it.”
And what of your rank and social influence? Is this “holiness to the Lord?” Human rank is powerful, and individual influence far-reaching, and for both these talents God holds us responsible! Are we laying it all down at Jesus’ feet, a holy consecrated thing, all made subservient to the advancement of His truth and kingdom and glory?
And what of your time, my soul? Is the first and best the Lord’s? Are the fragments gathered up–the unemployed hours frugally collected, and spent in some good and holy work for God, and for your fellows; in meditation and prayer–in solemn preparation for eternity? O my soul, you have but one life, and your days are but as a shadow! Devote that one life to God; employ those few and fleeting days in spiritual and gospel preparation for a never-ending future–a future of bliss or of woe!
My soul, conclude this present meditation by remembering that your God has given you the first and the best, when He spared not His Son, that He might spare you. And remember, also, that Jesus gave you the first and the best, when He gave Himself for your sins, a sacrifice, and an offering unto God of a sweet-smelling savor. Is it then an unreasonable request that He should ask at our hands, in return, the first and the best we can present of our intellect and heart, of our time, and wealth, and our all?
Blessed Lord, I will not put You off with the lame, and the sick, and the blind. You shall have the best lamb in my fold, the first flower of my youth, the prime of my life, the ripe and golden fruit of my old age.