Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16 (NIV)
I cleaned out one of our attics today. Yes, I said that right, one of our attics. We have two. In a large rooftop attic remnants of childhood are stored. Boxes of toys, a play BBQ grill, trains and other items that I might pass along to grandchildren sit over our heads collecting dust. Then, we have a smaller walk in attic that houses Christmas trees, outgrown clothes, papers, old projects, school reports, suitcases and some books. It was the walk in attic that needed to be cleaned. Once a year, before Christmas, I have to go through a year’s worth of stuff that has been shoved in there. All year, we rummage around in it, cramming in items until by November, you can barely shut the door. In order to retrieve the Christmas tree, I have to move it all aside. There were bags and bags of clothes that no longer fit my younger son as well as an old sleeping bag and some jackets. He is such a pack rat that he refused to let me give them away and insisted that we keep them. He was at school today, so I drug all those bags downstairs and quickly took them to Goodwill before he could figure out where they had gone. He will never miss them. Just after I dropped them off, the radio station I listen to broadcast a plea for blankets and jackets as tonight is going to be unusually cold for our part of Florida. I was glad that I had given those things away and hoped that someone might use them even tonight. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am grateful for all that God has given me. But, these verses tell us that there is more to being thankful than counting our blessings. Part of praising God is making the sacrifices to help others. Money, time, talents, they all are to be used to do good. But, we constantly battled selfishness, the opposite of sacrifice. How many excuses can I make keep my money for the things I want, to fill my calendar so tightly that I have no time to serve, to think of my abilities as mine to use as I see fit? I heard a missionary say recently that Americans spend more on their dogs than they do on missions. Uh, oh. I have two dogs, a horse, two cats, a bird and a rabbit. This month alone I have spent several hundred dollars on vet bills. What I give to my church and to missions is but a drop in the bucket compared to what I spend on things I want. When I took those bags of used items to Goodwill, there was no sacrifice to my giving. I got rid of things that we did not need from an attic crammed so full I cannot walk into it. If I am truly thankful for what I have, I will give, I will give generously, and I will give sacrificially.