1 Samuel 2:13-14,17 – Now it was the practice of the priests with the people that whenever anyone offered a sacrifice and while the meat was being boiled, the servant of the priest would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. He would plunge it into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot, and the priest would take for himself whatever the fork brought up. This was how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. … This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord's sight, for they were treating the Lord's offering with contempt. (NIV)
Many years ago, I attended a church where the organist was deaf. Throughout the singing of the hymns, she would be actively tickling the keyboard while at the same time vigilantly watching the music conductor, through a mirror, in order to keep pace with the congregation's singing. Unfortunately, however, the music was often out of sync with the people's voices.
After worship, I inquired of the family we were visiting as to why the elderly musician was still in active service. Was there no one else who could play the organ? Their reply came as a surprise. Yes, they did have another organist, but the deaf player had been a faithful, contributing member of the congregation for many, many years. Playing the organ on Sunday morning, year in and year out, was her offering of love to her Lord. Thus, when she became deaf and the music was often out of sync with the singers, as a congregation, they had voted to continue to accept the old organist's offering, and never to let on that perhaps it was time that she retired.
This congregation had made a choice between acceptance or contempt of another person's offering to the Lord, and they chose well.
How well do we choose when others in our congregations may offer as a sacrifice to the Lord that which may be different or out of sync with what we might offer? How often do we pick it apart, stab it with verbal abuse and ridicule, or shun their attempts to do what is right in the Lord's sight, feeding our own ego by degrading someone else's offering? This thought certainly made me stop and think, especially after I read in today's passage that treating the Lord's offering with contempt is a sin in His sight.
Prayer: Father God, may we accept with gracious and generous spirits the offerings of all Your saints this day. You and You alone know each and every heart, and thus, You and You alone are able to judge that which is offered. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.