When we think of an offering, most of us think of the church service when the ushers “pass the plate.” An offering can be so much more than that. A few weeks ago, my pastor (my wonderful, adorable husband) challenged our congregation to give an outrageous offering to the Lord and it could not be monetary; it had to be one that would cost us something—maybe a praise offering! One of his suggestions was to make up a praise dance and offer it to the Lord early in the morning as a part of your quiet time. That might cost some a bit of pride! Another suggestion was to sing a song to Him at the top of your lungs. My friend Randy Kelly, whom I wrote about last month, actually got out the pots and pans and marched around her kitchen while banging them as loud as she could—“praising Him with the cymbals” (2 Chronicles 5:13)! He is indeed worthy of our loudest, strongest praise.
How about a wellness offering? It takes a lot of hard work to keep those commitments we make in the New Year. Ninety percent of people making fitness resolutions on New Year’s Day abandon them by January 17. I am suggesting a different approach to all of this hard work—a wellness offering. This kind of offering is to be focused on the Lord, done as an act of worship to praise and thank Him. This is not a new idea and I cannot take credit for it. The apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Rome said it this way:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
“to offer your bodies”…The Jews would present sacrificial offerings to the Lord as a way of expressing their need for Him and their gratitude to Him. Paul uses the same word in Romans 6:13, where he talks about not giving our bodies over to sin, but rather presenting them or yielding them to God as a sacrificial offering. Most of us are comfortable with the idea of offering our spiritual life to God. We hope that the Lord will help us cleanse our thoughts and our hearts. And yet while presenting ourselves to God, we need to remember that the gift also includes our bodies. Yes, our physical bodies.
Why would God even want our bodies? The Jews were supposed to bring the best of the best to the Lord and let’s be honest—there are times in our lives when our bodies are far from the best. But here’s the amazing news: just as our spirits are given new life in Christ, our bodies are also given new life. It’s through us, including our bodies, that God does His amazing work. Our bodies and our spirits cannot be separated (at least in this world).
So how does this work? I think in two ways. First, consider your wellness endeavors a holy offering to the Lord—a sacrifice on the altar of food and exercise. Every time I make a food choice that is better for me, maybe not what I really want, but what I know is best, I present that choice to the Lord as an offering. A perfect example is my breakfast this morning. I woke up and there on my kitchen counter was a homemade pound cake someone sent home with Rob from church last night. I love pound cake. There is nothing wrong with pound cake, but for me it is not a good choice for breakfast. I have a history of heart disease in my family. My father died of a heart attack from clogged arteries. I now have a choice to make. I can choose to eat my everyday breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit or the cake. I chose the oatmeal and made the sacrifice. It is an offering because the Lord knows how much I would rather have the cake!
When it comes to exercise, believe it or not I am not manic to do it. I make choices just like you do. I love to sleep, but I know the best time of the day for me to exercise is in the morning before the day gets crazy. Every time I choose to get up, when my alarm goes off, and engage in exercise instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, that is an offering to the Lord. It will cost you something and it should. I have to go to the grocery store as soon as I finish this article to get some new magic erasers. I have a choice: I can drive my car or ride my bike. I could ride my bike, but it’s 37 degrees today and that is cold forEdistoIsland. It is true that it’s cold, but I have a coat, a bike and time. I am riding the bike. “Lord, I am doing this exercise for you as an offering. My body and spirit both need this exercise. Please use it for my good and your glory and find it acceptable and pleasing to you.” That is my prayer. That is what a sacrificial offering is all about. Eat the oats, grab your coat and make 2014 a year of sacrifice, giving to the Lord the offerings He is due.