I looked up the definition of ‘Second Best’ just to obtain a recognized and professional definition the other day. My trusty book dictionary, (a dictionary that you actually turn pages) the ‘New Penguin’ had this definition. Noun - somebody or something that comes after the best in quality or worth. This search was prompted from my reading of the Minor Prophet – Malachi. In chapter one the word of the Lord to Israel pointing out rather succinctly ~ When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Verse 8.
As one reads through the rest of the chapter it becomes starkly clear that the Lord does not appreciate second best sacrifices, in fact the Lord hates such offerings. Under the sacrificial system set out in Leviticus, and elsewhere, only a lamb without ‘spot and blemish’ is acceptable as an offering. This was certainly true under the old covenant, but does this standard still pertain under the New Testament, obtained and sealed with Christs own blood?
A rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit the Kingdom of God. This is recorded in the gospel of Mark 10. Jesus answered that he lacked one thing ~ he should give his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus. This was the supreme sacrifice that the rich young ruler should offer. Religiously following the commandments was only ever going to be a second best sacrifice. No doubt he had convinced himself that a religious observance was good enough.
Is going to church twice on the Sunday; Bible study and a prayer meeting/house group during the week; an offering in the plate at church; singing in the choir; serving in some capacity ~ good enough for the Lamb of God who died so that we may be set free?
This leads me into the sacrifice of Gods only Son; that while we were yet sinners he died for us, so that we may become children of the Most High God. As children we enjoy all the royal privileges of being in the royal family of God as we dwell in the heavenlies. Do we have an obligation to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him who gave his life for us?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Rom 12:1
I believe you are catching the drift of this blog. How often do we give second best to God and call it our best? Oswald Chambers, a favourite author of mine said it well when he wrote – ‘The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.’
Perhaps it is time that we acknowledged, that often our relationships with our Father are often second best, as spelled out in Malachi. The setting is different but the attitudes are often paralleled. In Malachi’s day giving of the best animal in sacrifice would have cost the person giving in sacrifice. Is not this attitude today selfish on our part? The Lord through Malachi asks the question ~ By offering second best to the authorities, would they be pleased? Is the coach of a sports team pleased if a player gives second best?
In the book of 1 Corinthians there is a passage that I do not hear much preached or taught concerning that on the Day each persons work will be tested by fire. [ See Chapter 3 ] From this passage I sense that building a relationship with our Father based on ‘second best’ is building with wood, hay or straw. As for me I am striving under the grace of God to aim for my reward that has been set aside in heavens vaults for me.
and to present her (the church ) to himself ( Jesus ) as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5
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