“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1)
Indeed when there is a virtue, there is its vice also. It is very possible that when we wish to render sacrifices to God that we may tend to offer sacrifices contrary to his requirements. We must be very careful therefore that in our sacrifices, we offer acceptable sacrifices.
I know that many think that everything you give, especially in church, is a sacrifice to God, and there is no sacrifice that he doesn’t accept, but the verse above clearly debunks the rightness of this thought. It says that we should be more ready to hear than to give sacrifices of fools. Meaning that there are sacrifices which are foolish though they be offered to God. This sacrifice is considered as evil, and thus is an abomination. In that he says “the house of God,” we know full well that he also refer to the gathering of God’s people. So we know that it is very possible to offer foolish unacceptable sacrifices in the very house of God. In the same vain, in the church, many do offer sacrifices of fools over and over again. These sacrifices are evil, and thus unacceptable to God.
Now what is it that defines what a sacrifice of fools is? A sacrifice of fools is a sacrifice that is not based on obedience to God, but on the contrary is based on ignorance. Every sacrifice based on ignorance is evil. For this reason, the writer says “be more ready to hear.” It is better not to offer at all than to offer these evil sacrifices that are based on ignorance. Only offer things that you are sure is commanded by God and if it is commanded by him, do it to the uttermost extent of the commandment. Don’t stop halfway in obedience.
We have people who preach that a Christian ought to pay tithe, and we have those who accept that too. In fact majority of the church believe this. However, the truth is that tithe (given by Christians) is a sacrifice of fools. Your church leaders are not your priests. No part of the Bible speaks of them as the sort priests though they claim to be. We have only the royal priesthood, which includes every believer, and Jesus our great High Priest and he alone is the high priest. Where did pastoral priesthood, or ecclesiastical priesthood come from? Many also give all manner of seed and other crafted offerings thinking they were obeying God. Brethren, read your Bible. If what you’re doing is not commanded of God, cease from it though you think it is good. The foolish givers in offering the fools’ sacrifice have only ended up sponsoring church division and infighting thinking they were doing something great.
Now I’ve spoken of only giving here because this is a major abuse done in the church of God. But this applies to every act of sacrificing to God. Where God requires a sheep, don’t give him a pig. Where he requires a dove, don’t give him a raven. Where he requires grain, don’t give him creeping things. Just give him what he asks for alone.
Also don’t give God things because you’ve rejected them. Those things that you would rather do without, and because you don’t like them you offer it to God as a sacrifice. A man sees that lying is ruining him, so he stops lying because he’d rather do without it. A man sees that stealing is ruining his reputation, and so offers stealing to God as a sacrifice and says, “take it Lord. For your sake I steal no more.” I don’t mean that we should continue in these things, offering God these things alone amounts to just offering him contemptible things. Even a wise pagan would not be a thief, a liar, an adulterer, a cheat, etc. What therefore is the difference between we and they? Are we mere wise pagans? Should there not be something more for which we can say we are different from the pagan? We must offer everything to God. We must not stop at these evil things. We must offer to God things that are rightfully ours. We must offer him our rest, our time, our peace, and pleasure, our wealth, our prosperity, honour, and every other thing. To stop at giving God these evil things is to be like Saul. He went on God’s assignment but only destroyed everything without value and kept the good ones. Destroying the bad things is part of the commandment commanded him by God, but stopping at destroying only vile things to keep good ones total disobedience. That is a sacrifice of a fool. For the Bible says, “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” (1 Samuel 15:9). The same way we offer to God vile and refuse things and keep the good ones. We deny him our time, our honour, our prosperity, and every thing that are of value, and give him the things by which we incur losses. Of such foolish sacrifice, Saul, like many of would do, justified himself fully as it is written, “And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD…” (1 Samuel 15:20). So my brethren, when Jesus told us to even hate our lives, let us not stop at anything short of that. Let us give him the whole of ourselves.
Do not let the society dictate what your religious commitment to your God should be like. The society is only bothered about general well being of people and not much about your relationship with God. For this reason, they desire that people should not steal, people should not lie, people should not murder and so on, so they set up institutions to make people have the mind to live this way. This is very good and only wise societies do this. For this reason, people often consider these things as standards for godly living. But society is not really bothered about your relationship with God nor your commitment to him because it ought not to. What has the society got to do with standing between you and God so as to draw you close to him? So do not let the religiousness of a good society place a limitation on your commitment to God so as to limit your commitment to him to not stealing, fighting, lying, killing, etc. While the society is good and wise to encourage and demand this of you, it would amount to sacrificing the sacrifice of fools to offer only these to God. You must go further to sacrifice even things that are of profit to you. Those things that are for your ease and comfort. You must let them all go if they stand in the way of complete obedience to God and expressing sincere love for the brethren.
There are also unsinful addictions. Things that are not sinful but, as addictions, don’t let us walk with God as we ought to. Sometimes, we can go on and playing games switching from one to the other thereby having no time to pray, study the Bible, sing hymns, etc. Some people would even go on playing games for hours and hours and hours, and when they’re tired, to take a break, they switch over to movies and watch for hours and hours and hours, and when they’re tired of that again, they switch to games again, and the cycle goes on. This is not supposed to be the way of a Christian life. Surely these things are not sinful. It is not that you’re murdering people for hours and hours and hours, nor is it telling lies for hours and hours and hours, but it is just games. It doesn’t even have to be those games in which you kill people, it may be a game as simple as football. But it is not the way of a Christian to choose these things over spending quality time with God and serving him. Let us sacrifice these things for the sake of God seeing that the time is short. I’m not saying these things are evil, but we mustn’t let it rob us of our time with God.
What makes these things somewhat hard to give up is that we try to imagine life without them. Being mere imaginations they are far from the truth. You haven’t lived without them, yet you wish to paint mere pictures of how life is without them and base our decision on these false pictures. It is very likely that until we stop a thing in reality we may never know how insignificant they are and how well we could do without them.
Another about giving up these things for the sake of God is that we don’t feel the repercussion as we do things of this world. People can leave the most interesting tv show when they see that it is getting late because they must be early to work the next day. People could abandon the most interesting game to go find something to eat, because they’re hungry. But who feels hungry, or who gets fired when we refuse to read our Bibles? None. But he that has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, that in his presence there is fullness of joy, and that walking with him is joy unspeakable and full of glory, such can never give up his time with God for these mondane things. So let us open our eyes and see the true poverty of the things of these world and the riches of following Christ and choose him above the things of the world.
Let’s go the whole way in offering sacrifices of the wise and not of fools. Give your all to Jesus. Put all on the altar of obedience to God and love for the brethren. Paul wrote, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Philippians 3:7 – 8). Paul, remember, was a Pharisee. He probably didn’t steal, he probably didn’t tell lies, he probably didn’t fornicate, he probably didn’t do any of these things we often wish to sacrifice to God, but those righteousness, and things that were rightly his’ and for his benefit he counted them as loss and nothing but dung. He sacrificed life, comfort, wife and family, home, favour of the Jews, and much more for two things alone; obedience to God and love for the brethren.
Yes, we may not have a calling like Paul where we would refuse to marry or have a family, house, etc. Because seeing that these things would not allow him carry out God’s command to him in person, he sacrificed them all, as important as they seem. So also, at every point in life where God’s command and love for the brethren demands that we sacrifice all, let’s sacrifice all. Let us not debate in our mind whether or not we should, let’s just do it. Even when we marry, let us marry only if we know that it will help us to serve God better and refusal to marry would make us not to be able to obey God as we should. So in this case marriage is not deterring us from obedience to God or from the love of the brethren, but, seeing what manner of nature we have, and if we haven’t been given the grace to defy that nature, let us marry so that we can obey God to a fuller extent. So our life, whether by marriage or by celibacy, must be lived in complete obedience to God and love for the brotherhood.
We should not consider what Paul sacrificed to seem as if different people have their own special calling to a unique level of sacrifice. But even in the case of marriage, we shouldn’t see it as if God has allowed us where he refused Paul, but rather we must see marriage as a choice meant to enable us serve God better. So we are sacrificing the freedom of celibacy for a life of marriage for the sole reason of being able to serve God better and pleasing him rather than burning with lust. For this reason, we shouldn’t go into marriage as the ideal thing or the way to go, but we must only accept to marry when we conclude for sure that we can’t serve God well without getting married. So, people ought to marry only having carefully considered the possibility of being unmarried, and choose to marry when and only when we know that without it we are likely to burn with lust which will displease God.
Let us not offer a fool’s sacrifice but put our all on the altar. From the start to the finish of Jesus’ demands, we can see that what he requested for was nothing short of all. It therefore is a sacrifice of fools to give him in part and not in whole. Since he requested for all, let us, as wise, give him all. It is certainly not easy to sacrifice all these things, but are you willing to live for God alone? Are you willing to place him as the first priority in your life? If so, then must all things be sacrificed. You can’t have God and the world. But if you’d be desirous to have God above all things else (the strength may be absent), his grace is available to enable us sacrifice the sacrifice of the wise which is well pleasing to him.
Prayer: O Father, I see that it is very common and easy for me to offer refuse things thinking I’m offering you so much. Forgive me for this error, and grant me the grace to offer to you, and for you, all you require from me in absolute obedience and love. In Jesus’ name I’ve prayed. Amen.