This is embarrassing to say: I’m not too keen on leftovers. I think I get that from my dad. I really dislike that about myself. It feels like I should be less picky and be more grateful for the fact that I have an abundance of food when so many others in this world do not. And yet, I just cannot seem to stomach a repeat meal. It’s almost repulsive to me.
First-world problem, I guess. Or is it?
While I give my dad the credit (he’s wired like that too), isn’t this also something that I get from my Heavenly Father? Does He love our leftovers? No, He desires our first fruits. Our best. How often is that what we actually give to the Lord? For that matter, how often is that actually what we give to anybody?
Not too long ago I felt like the Lord spoke conviction over this very area in my life. You see, in some ways, giving to God first seems to come pretty naturally. I am okay giving God a tithe every month. I am consistent at giving him my mornings to study and read His word. I am pretty consistent at working “as unto the Lord” in my place of work. Yet I was made aware that I was still missing the mark. I had not been giving my best—my first fruits of my parenting.
What do I mean by that?
Well, as far as I can tell, God’s calling to us as parents is one that we are not to take lightly. As anyone who is a parent can tell you, parenting is hard. It’s sacrificial. (Or, at least, good parenting is sacrificial!) Parents are called to give when they don’t feel like giving. They are called to serve when they don’t have the energy to serve. We lose sleep to meet the needs of our babies, and later our teens. It’s hard. It’s exhausting.
It’s also amazingly rewarding.
At times, I think that I am doing pretty well as a parent. I feed and clothe my children. I attend their events, pack their lunches, and advocate for them when they need me to. I love my kids, and they regularly hear me tell and show them that I do.
But I have failed them, and it took God’s voice to show me. You see, I was doing all these good parenting “things,” but neglecting what was most important. I was giving my kids spiritual leftovers. I was being lazy. Somewhere along the parenting journey, I switched from investing in teaching my kids about Jesus and reading the Bible stories to them, and began allowing their exposure to the Word to come on Sunday mornings at church alone. Sunday morning worship wasn’t enough for me and my spiritual needs but I allowed it to be enough for them.
And the worst part of all? This has gone on for years.
Here’s what I know about God: He lovingly convicts with a purpose. He does not want us to live in shame, but to redeem and restore us. I heard God’s message and I am determined to invest in the gift God gave me, my children, better. As long as these girls are in my home, we will make time each evening to read and study God’s Word. I will teach my children as I have been called to do. They are worth the investment, as is my God. The prayers that I pray for my kids will not only be spoken in quiet—but over them.
It’s not too late. It’s never too late. God has called me to invest first fruits in this area, and I will obey. What’s at stake is too important. Our kids and God deserve our best, not leftovers.
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-7