Give of Your Best

Crowds were seen in the various wet markets in the days leading to the eve of lunar new year. Thanks to social distancing measures, we did not encounter overcrowding in these places.  For those who frequent the wet markets, they do not mind waking up in the wee hours, endure long hours of queuing, just so that they were able to bring home the freshest ingredients to prepare a sumptuous meal for a reunion dinner with their loved ones. For the love of the family, any amount of hard work is worth it for even a simple meal. Thus, when we sit down and enjoy a reunion dinner with our friends and relatives, we savour not only the flavour of the dishes, but also the love and effort that was put into them. We should say a word of thanks to the ones working hard behind the scenes in the kitchen, be grateful for their act of love. The people who worked behind the scenes could be our mothers, wives, husbands, grandparents, aunties etc. Because of their love for us, they were willing to give the best, sacrificing their time and rest, and enduring hours of heat beside the stove.

Love is a great force. It can make one go beyond oneself, give beyond giving. And every one of us grew up surrounded by this love: the selfless love of our parents; the nurture and guidance of our mentors; the giving of our all to our best friends. As we mature, we learn to reciprocate their love for us. We would naturally learn to imitate them and to learn how to love and care for the people around us. When we know Christ, He showed us God’s unconditional love. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Jesus Christ was willing to bear the consequences of our sins, to die for us on the cross, so that we need not face the judgement of hell, could be reconciled to God, and could be someone who is eternally blessed. There is no love in this world that is greater than this. As a Christian, we benefitted from this amazing love. Since we had received this great blessing, we should not be thinking nothing about it. The apostle Paul replied: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died; And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor 5:14-15). No.  Jesus Christ died for us and rose again. We accepted Him as our Saviour. Thus we should be determined to live everyday for Christ. This is the way to repay God’s love for us. When we received an act of kindness from someone, we would want to repay it. Hence, if we received this kindness from God, we should repay it all the more. The way of repayment should be proportional to the magnitude of the grace that was received. What we have receive from God is the life of Jesus Christ. The only mode of repayment for the grace of this magnitude would be “a life for a life.” Any other way would be seen as perfunctory. From the perspective of repayment, using one’s life as a mode of repaying God’s grace to us is the most logical way. What God gave us is way beyond what we could repay Him. But repaying Him is what we should and must do. It does not mean that God had certain shortcomings for which we could make up, or that God was so busy that we needed to help Him out, lest the work of salvation would be delayed. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt 16:25). The more we are willing to repay God’s grace by losing our life to live for Him, the more abundant a life He would give us. God does not lack the things that we were to give Him, but it is through giving that He would give us more.

When we examine our life with honesty, we would discover that we often lack sincerity in giving back to God. May God have mercy on us. We hold back our giving from God. One instance is we worry about giving God too much with the consequence that we lack. Another instance is to think that satisfying one’s own needs is more practical. These shortcomings are not uncommon among Christians. May the love of God encourage us once more, just as it encouraged Paul, to live your life for God with passion and joy. Then and there we should give the best to God. “Give of Your best to the Master” was a hymn written by Pastor Howard Grose. In a choir practice, some members arrived late and brought inconvenience to others. They were not apologetic about it. This infuriated Pastor Grose and he rebuked the choir members: “God does not need your spare time”, and shortly after that, he wrote this hymn:

Give of your best to the Master, Nought else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom, Gave up His glory above;
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration, Give Him the best that you have

~Hymn 396 Give the Best to your Master~

translated by Elaine Chew