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Scraps for My Dog

Scraps for My Dog

The LORD said to Moses, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” Exodus 13:1-2

I find the way my dog sits and stares at me while I’m eating to be disconcerting. It’s my own fault though – this is a learned behavior. My past actions have taught him that when I’m done eating, he gets the scraps, gristle, and fat left over from my meal. So, he sits, waiting not-so-patiently, licking his lips, hoping for a morsel to fall from my plate. His pride doesn’t care, but this is not a position of honor. To sit, waiting, begging, and hoping for scraps, is to live in humble subservience. We save the best for ourselves, giving the dog our leftovers.

Unfortunately, I’ve treated God this way. I’ve claimed to follow God above all, but in reality, I’ve followed myself. Yes, I gave God an hour on Sunday, unless I wanted to sleep in. I spent my time, money, and energy pursuing my will and then, I’d pray to God only when I needed something. Pursuing me led to the disaster of my addiction. In that calamity, I had to learn a different way of life – daily pursuing God’s will above my own. I don’t do it perfectly now, but because God has saved me from myself, I must now give him the first part of my day – every day.

This echoes God’s command in today’s passage. In the story, God delivered his people from Egyptian slavery through the 10th plague – the death of every firstborn child – finally convincing Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. God’s people were saved from this catastrophe as he passed over them, killing only the Egyptian firstborn. In response to saving their firstborn, God commanded the Israelites to consecrate those children to him. This didn’t mean child sacrifice, but rather to dedicate those children to him – to acknowledge that God had saved them and to consider them to be God’s children. This fits with God’s insistence that his people give to him the first of everything (Proverbs 3:9).

God doesn’t want the scraps of my life and I shouldn’t treat him like my dog. He created me in such a way that I live my best life only when I honor him above all. So, he asks that I give him the first of everything. When I get a paycheck, I must first give some of that money back to him. Likewise, when I get up every day, I must first give some of my time and energy to seek his will. Because he’s saved me from myself, I must respond by daily putting him first. For my life to be in its correct orientation, I must recognize that I serve God – not the other way around.

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