Introduction: This chapter uses baking as a metaphor for a life offering for God. As a baker knows, there are both general and specific instructions to good baking. The general instructions include knowing who you will be cooking for and for what reason. The specific instructions are important for knowing what ingredients will be needed for the meal. A believer needs both the general and specific ingredients listed below for an effective life offering for God.
The general ingredients for a life offering. As set forth more fully below, the general ingredients for an effective life offering for God include the following seven elements. First, instead of a grain offering used in the Old Testament, you make an offering out of your own life. Second, you must offer your life in response to what Christ has already done for you. You are not offering your life to earn your salvation or favor with Him. Third, your life offering should be filled with joy and gratitude. Fourth, your life offering should model after Christ’s example. Fifth, because you were bought with a heavy price, you should offer yourself as an acceptable “living sacrifice” to God (Ro. 12:1). Sixth, your life offering should be obedient to both God’s Word and His calling for you. Finally, never let your life offering to God become a ritual or a routine. Unless an offering is from the heart, it is meaningless to God.
The specific ingredients for a life offering. In Leviticus Chapter 2, God also provides seven specific ingredients for an effective life offering. First, as symbolized by cooking with oil, your life offering must be led by the Spirit. Second, as symbolized by the unleavened bread, your life offering should be free from sin. Third, as symbolized by the fine crushed flour, your life offering should be crushed to allow God to lead. Your life offering should also include the best of your life. Fourth, as symbolized by the frankincense, your life offering should include regular prayer. From other passages in the Bible, prayer should be offered at least twice a day. Yet, prayer offered out of routine or ritual is meaningless. Fifth, as symbolized by the salt, your life offering should convict sinners the same way that salt stings in a wound. Your life offering must also not be changed or influenced by the world around you. Sixth, as symbolized by the prohibition on honey, your life offering should also involve some aspect of self-denial. Denying the flesh in some manner helps to control the flesh and allow you to fill your life offering with the Spirit. Finally, as symbolized by the priest’s share, your life offering should be filled with generosity toward others. This includes both tithing and helping the less fortunate around you.
Leviticus chapter 2: “1 ‘Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it. 2 He shall then bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests; and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour and of its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priest shall offer it up in smoke as its memorial portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. 3 The remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons: a thing most holy, of the offerings to the Lord by fire. 4 ‘Now when you bring an offering of a grain offering baked in an oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers spread with oil. 5 If your offering is a grain offering made on the griddle, it shall be of fine flour, unleavened, mixed with oil; 6 you shall break it into bits and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. 7 Now if your offering is a grain offering made in a pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. 8 When you bring in the grain offering which is made of these things to the Lord, it shall be presented to the priest and he shall bring it to the altar. 9 The priest then shall take up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. 10 The remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons: a thing most holy of the offerings to the Lord by fire. 11 ‘No grain offering, which you bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the Lord. 12 As an offering of first fruits you shall bring them to the Lord, but they shall not ascend for a soothing aroma on the altar. 13 Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. 14 ‘Also if you bring a grain offering of early ripened things to the Lord, you shall bring fresh heads of grain roasted in the fire, grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early ripened things. 15 You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering. 16 The priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, part of its grits and its oil with all its incense as an offering by fire to the Lord.” (Lev. 2:1-16).
Background: The Relevance of the Preceding Blood Sacrifice. In Leviticus Chapter 1, God provided a solution to a serious problem that both Moses and the Jews faced. The people’s sin had separated them from God (Is. 59:2). God’s holy presence had entered the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-35). Yet, no one - not even Moses - was righteous enough to appear before God (Rom. 3:10-11; Ps. 14:1; 53:1; 143:2). If this was true for Moses, it is true for us today as well: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). The penalty for our being in God’s holy presence without our sins forgiven is death (Rom. 6:23). Only through a blood sacrifice could a person’s sins be forgiven: “the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11). Yet, the animal burnt offerings that the people offered were imperfect. They could not fully take away the people’s sins (Heb. 10:11). They could only “cover” the people’s sins. After Christ’s death, the second Temple was destroyed and all animal sacrifices ended. Christ was the one-time sacrifice whose blood not only covered our sins but took it away forever: “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14). For many Christians this is all that they are taught. People assume that there is nothing left to do once we accept Jesus as Lord and savior by accepting in faith His blood sacrifice for us. Yet, from the sacrifices in Leviticus, we learn that the blood atonement was a necessary first step (but not by itself a final step) for a believer to restore true fellowship with God. The reason why atonement does not automatically bring fellowship is that we were “enemies” of God before we were reconciled through Christ’s blood (Ro. 5:10; Phil. 3:18-19). Chapter 2 tells us the next step in restoring “fellowship” with God.
The grain offering is the fruits of a person’s labor. Each sacrifice contained symbolic meaning. We study the details of the blood sacrifices to learn how to make “spiritual sacrifices” to Christ: “you also . . . are . . . to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5). The grain offering is not different. It symbolized the fruits of a person’s labor. It is what a person did in response to being saved. A life without anything done in response to Christ’s sacrifice means your faith is dead: “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (Jam. 2:14, 26).
Atonement For Sin (Justification) Must Precede A Life Offering to God (Sanctification). In the Bible, the detail of each sacrifice matters. This includes the order of the sacrifices. The grain offering had to follow the blood offering. The very first recorded sacrifice in the Bible explains this. Following the sins of Adam and Eve, their fellowship with God was broken. Their first two boys, Abel and Cain, each made an offering to God. Abel made a burnt offering from the blood of a sacrificed animal. By contrast, Cain made a burnt offering from the grain that he had grown. God accepted Abel’s offering. Yet, even though it took more work for Cain to make a grain offering, God rejected it (Gen. 4:1-5). Why did God do this? Abel made a “faith” offering to atone for his sins (Heb. 11:4). By contrast, Cain was motivated to promote his works. Works are important. Without them, your faith is dead (Jam. 2:14-26). Yet, God will not accept the fruits of our life offering unless we first acknowledge our sins and our need for the blood of atonement. A life filled with charitable acts is meaningless to God if is not motivated by humble gratitude for your salvation. If we seek recognition for our good works for reasons unrelated to Christ’s death, we seek to glorify ourselves, not God (Eph. 2:9; Rom. 3:27).
The Jews gave their grain offering to celebrate their freedom from bondage of sin. The Jews made their grain offering out of joy for the freedom that God had given them: “They shall know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt . ..” (Ex. 29:45-46). “ . . . so that your generations may know that . . . I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 23:42-43). Egypt was the land of bitter bondage (Ex. 1:11-22). As a result of the sacrifice of a bull, a lamb, or a bird (depending upon what the person could afford) the blood atoned for the Jews’ sins. This meant that God’s judgment for the person’s sins was vicariously transferred to the animal. The grain offering was a labor of joy, love, and devotion to give thanks for this. Your life offering should also be filled with joy.
Sing praises that you have also been freed from the bondage of sin. We too were “once slaves of sin.” (Rom. 6:17). We are free only because of what Christ did for us, not because of our works: “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 Jo. 2:2). “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17). If you are thankful for being delivered from bondage, your life offering must be focused on celebrating what Christ did for you. This includes praising God in all that you do: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,. . ..” (Heb. 13:15). David gave regular thanks through songs of praise (e.g., Ps. 18:49; 26:7; 30:4, 12; 50:14; 69:30; 75:1; 79:13; 92:1; 95:2; 97:12; 100:4; 106:1; 107:1, 8; 116:17; 118:1; 119:62; 140:13; 147:7).
Christ’s grain offering was given to us. All the sacrifices in the Bible were a “copy and shadow” of Christ (Heb. 8:4-5; Col. 2:16-17). Christ gave His life offering to us: “Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, always give us this bread.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I present myself as the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” (Jo. 6:34-35). “‘I constitute the bread that came down out of heaven.’” (Jo. 3:41). He was the “Word” that “became flesh.” (Jo. 1:14). Thus, the primary ingredient that you will be cooking with is Christ. We will eat the Word in communion with Christ to remember what He did and to keep our lives in alignment with His (Matt. 26:26; 1 Cor. 11:24).
You were bought with a price. Paul says to us: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23). “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2). Thus, we must be Holy as we make the fruit of our lives (our grain offering) a living sacrifice to God.
Become a bondservant to righteousness. Paul became a bondservant for Christ, a free slave who chose to remain with the Lord out of love (Rom. 1:1). We were once slaves to sin. Out of love to Christ, He wants you to become a slave to righteousness: “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Rom. 6:18).
The detailed cooking instructions. God’s cooking instructions don’t require you to come up with your own life recipe. The Jews did not have the right to pick and choose when or how to observe the sacrifices (Nu. 28:1). Nothing was left to individual discretion. God closely regulated what days these sacrifices took place, the types of animals involved, the number of animals involved, and the exact measurements of the flour to be used. For each kind of sacrifice, a specific number of “ephahs” of fine flour and oil were required (Nu. 28:5; 8:8; 7:13; 15:3-12; Lev. 2:1, 7; 8:26; 14:10). These instructions also apply to us. Moses was told that there was “one law” for the Jews and “alien sojourns,” foreigners who decided to become Jewish (Nu. 15:14-16, 29). Thus, you cannot pick and choose which laws to follow while cooking up a life offering to God.
We must also be obedient to Christ. According to Christ, we cannot say that we love God if we are disobedient to His Word (Jo. 14:15; 15:10). Today, many believers treat the Bible like an a la carte menu. For example, the Bible tells us not to forsake the gathering of the saints, either in church or in a small study group (Heb. 10:25). But people ignore such commandments. We should not use God’s mercy and grace to ignore His instructions on how He wants to be worshiped. Is there any area where you are being disobedient?
If you are cooking out of obligation, it is meaningless to God. Let’s say that you attend church each week faithfully for Christ. Yet, you have grown tired of going. You are busy, and you feel that you have better use of your time. Nevertheless, you continue to serve because you don’t want to disappoint your family. This kind of service is worthless to God. “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. . . I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-24). “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me.” (Isa. 1:13; Jer. 7:21-24). Is any part of your walk done out of obligation or routine?
We cannot draw close to God without the Holy Spirit. Seven times (a number of completeness in the Bible) we are told that the grain offering needed to be sacrificed with oil (Lev. 2:1-2,4, 6-7, 15). This ingredient is mentioned more than any other in this chapter. This commandment to make oil part of any offering is also repeated throughout Leviticus and Numbers (Lev. 8:10-11, 30; 14:18, 29; Ex. 29:1-3; Nu. 7:13, 19, 25, 31, 37, 43, 49, 55, 61, 67, 73, 79; 15:4; 6, 9). Everything in the Bible has meaning. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). If we serve God without His Holy Spirit, we are being led by the flesh. God does not want a living sacrifice that is led by the flesh (Rom. 8:6-7).
We cannot work together with others without the Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we also cannot work effectively as a group for God: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Cor. 12:12-26). “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:2-6).
To cook with the Holy Spirit, set your mind daily on the Spirit. How do we cook with the Holy Spirit? “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:5). Because we gravitate to the flesh every day, we must renew our minds “daily” (Rom. 12:2.)
To make sure that you are cooking with the Spirit, check your fruits. How do we know if we are cooking with the Spirit? You check your fruits (Matt. 7:16). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23). “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21). Which set of fruits applies to you? Is there any area in your life were the deeds of the flesh are present?
Our life offering to God must be free from sin. The grain offering was to be made from “unleavened bread.” (Lev. 2:4, 11; Ex. 12:15; 29:1-3; Nu. 6:15). Leaven is a symbol of sin (1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9). The Jews were first told not to use leaven to bake their bread (which takes time to cook) because they needed to immediately flee from the land of bondage to the Promised Land (Ex. 12:8, 15). The rabbis taught that if a Jew had to wait for the bread to rise before they could join God’s people they were still in emotional bondage of Egypt. Today, we are the bride of Christ (Rev. 22:2, 17). The house or temple where the Holy Spirit dwells is in our bodies (1 Cor. 3:16-17). Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we must remove the leaven from our bodies (1 Cor. 5:7; 6:13-15; 18-20).
If we ignore sin, it will rise. Leaven is the baking ingredient that causes bread to rise. One gram of yeast contains 20,000,000,000 (twenty billion) single-celled living microorganisms. If we leave any hidden sin in our lives, it will rise like leaven in bread. Is there any small sin in your life that you have failed to remove? If so, it will not stay hidden for long.
Yeast comes in many forms. Over 600 different species of yeast are known and they are widely distributed in nature. Should you be looking for only one kind of hidden sin in your life? Or, should you be looking for many kinds of sin?
We must find our hidden sins through the Word. Jesus once referred to believers as being “mixed with leaven” (Matt. 13:33). If we wish to remove the leaven in our lives, we must first find it through reading the Word. “[T]hrough the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:20). Once we find our sins, we must repent of them. Are you reading the Word daily to find your sins?
To keep our bodies free of sin, we must keep our eyes and minds clean. Jesus warns that: “[t]he eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23). Are you protecting your eyes from sinful things? If not, you are filling your mind and body with darkness.
Our life offering must serve God, not ourselves. The priest was told to use only “fine flour.” (Lev. 2:1, 7; Nu. 7:13, 19, 25, 31, 37, 43, 49, 55, 61, 67, 73, 79). To become fine, however, the flour must be “crushed.” Fine flour has to be continually crushed to be refined. We are crushed and purified so that we will seek to fulfill God’s will in our lives, not our own: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (Jo. 6:34). Our will also must be subject to the Father’s will or the Holy Spirit cannot fully come upon us (2 Cor. 4:8). Are you serving God’s will or your own?
Offer the best of your life. The fine flour also meant that the offering for God involved only the best ingredients. Are you giving God the best of your time, talent, and treasure?
God does not want you to delay your life offering. “Another of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.’” (Matt. 8:21-23). We cannot wait to get our personal affairs in order before we go and serve the Lord. Are you being disobedient to a calling in your life by waiting until a time you think is convenient?
The Holy Spirit will purge you of sin through trial and tribulation. In order to crush you of your own will, God must also purify you by fire. The bread of the life offering was baked over a fire. In at least one of the Jewish festivals called Rosh Hashanah, the bread offering was also thrown into God’s fire (Lev. 23:24-25). The fire symbolized the purification and judgment of the Spirit. God is a consuming fire (Dt. 4:24; Josh. 6:24; 1 Sam. 3-23; 1 Kgs. 18:18-40). He “shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:3). It is the job of the Holy Spirit to purge sin and self will from us through fire and tribulation (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:7). Heat above a certain limit will also kill the yeast in your life. With yeast, each yeast cell, on average, undergoes this budding process 12 to 15 times before it is no longer capable of reproducing. Yet, if yeast becomes too hot or sits too long it will in essence rot and be of no value to a baker trying to make the bread rise. Thus, to remove our yeast, the fire of the Holy Spirit is a vital part of our renewal: “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21). If God has allowed trials in your life, rejoice because this may be the Holy Spirit cleansing you of your will and preparing you for service (1 Pet. 4:13). Is your life offering still filled with selfish desires? If so, the Holy Spirit still has work to do.
Your Life Must Be Filled with Righteous Prayer. God also told the priest to cook with frankincense (Lev. 2:2). This was the chief ingredient used to make incense in the Tabernacle (Ex. 30:34-35). Because it was considered so valuable, it was brought along with gold to Jesus by the wise men upon His birth. Incense when burned creates smoke. Here, it is used to create a sweet aroma to God. Today, we can create a “soothing aroma” for God through our prayers: “May my prayer be counted as incense before You . . . ” (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:3). The Holy Spirit then communicates God’s answers to our prayers (Jo. 14:16-18; 14:25-26).
Pray at least two times a day. The priests created a soothing aroma on two separate occasions each day, in the morning and at twilight (Lev. 6:20; Ex. 30:7-8; Nu. 28:4, 8). The psalmist David states that he prayed in the morning (Ps. 5:3; 88:13). He also prayed at twilight (Ps. 63:6; 141:2). The twilight offering happened in the mid afternoon at the ninth hour. Peter and John, for example, went “to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.” (Acts 3:1). Christ was crucified at the appointed time of the morning sacrifice and died at the appointed time of the mid-afternoon sacrifice (Mk. 15:25, 34). This suggests that God wants us to create a soothing prayer aroma to Him twice a day to honor Christ (1 Chron. 23:30; 1 Thess. 5:17; Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2; Jam. 5:16). Are you praying at least twice a day?
Make your prayers righteous before God. The incense was to have equal amounts of “stacte and onycha, galbanum and pure frankincense.” (Ex. 30:34). The incense was to be “salted, pure and holy.” (Ex. 30:35). The incense was also to be fragrant or sweet (Ex. 30:7). Moreover, the priest was warned not to burn any “strange incense.” (Ex. 30:9). Aaron’s sons Nabad and Abihu later died for burning “strange fire” that God had not commanded (Lev. 10:1-3). This means that some prayers are not pleasing to God. In the Old Testament, God warned that He would not hear the prayers of those in open rebellion “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;” (Ps. 66:18; Is. 1:15-16). In the New Testament, God warns that sin can “hinder” your prayers (1 Pet. 3:7; Jo. 9:31). Is there sin in your life that might be “hindering” your prayers?
Your life must stand out for God’s will in a corrupt world. God also told the priest to offer salt with the grain offering (Lev. 2:13). Salt also was part of any burnt offering (Ezek. 43:24). Salt gives the food taste. It creates thirst. It is also a symbol of judgment. For example, Lot’s wife was turned into salt (Gen. 19:26). On other occasions, salt was scattered on destroyed cities to destroy crops (Dt. 29:23; Jdgs. 9:45; Ps. 137:34; Jer. 17:5-6; 48:9; Zeph. 2:9). Salt also had a second meaning. We are called to be “salt” and light (Matt. 5:13). Salt irritates an open wound. Do you cause others to apologize for profanity or their speech when they are around you? Do you cause others to thirst for the living water of truth from your salt? Or, do you blend in around any setting?
Your convictions must not bend to the world. God later referred to a “covenant of salt.” (Nu. 18:19). Salt was part of a covenant because it had a lasting quality (Gen. 31:54; Ex. 24:5-11; Ps. 50:5). It also foreshadowed Christ’s everlasting covenant with us (Gen. 17:7; Ps. 105:10). Salt was used to keep meat from turning rotten. We must be like salt in a rotting world. This includes being steadfast in your faith. Do you let things around you change the way you think about God? Or, do you remain steadfast in following His Word?
Store up your pleasures in heaven. The priests were also told not to put honey in their offerings on the altar (Lev. 2:11). The Promised Land was also called the land of milk and honey. There are great treasures that await us in our Promised Land called heaven. Yet, Jesus tells us to sacrifice our pleasures today - “the honey” - so that we may store up these treasures in heaven. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” (Matt. 6:20). He also tells us to deny ourselves. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”’ (Matt. 16:24). Are you giving up things for God? Or, do you live a life of gluttony?
Self-denial allows God to fill you with joy. Although God would not allow honey to be sacrificed, it could become part of a person’s first fruit offering. When you deny yourself, you allow God to fill you with the joy of the Spirit. Frequently, self-indulgence and greed brings misery as the person craves that which the person does not have. Those who consciously decide not to indulge the flesh find the joy of the Spirit. This can include fasting or other forms of self-denial. This is the honey of the first fruits offering. Through self-denial, your life offering will become filled by the Spirit with joy for others. “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” (Phil. 2:17). “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Col. 1:24). The joy of the Spirit should be light for others: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matt. 5:14-15). Do you ever fast or deny yourself the things of the flesh? If you see no value in fasting, ask if your life is filled with joy for others to see.
Your life should include sharing with others. The priests who performed the sacrifices were also to receive a portion of the grain offering (Lev. 2:10). God also required that the priests give a “tithe of a tithe.” (Nu. 18:24-29). The priest’s tithes and the people’s tithes benefited those who were in need. The priests directed the tithes to those who needed the help the most. They gave to one another like the believers did in the book of Acts. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. . . And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” (Acts 2:42-47). Are you sharing with those in need?
Be a generous giver. We are not just commanded to give, we are commanded to be generous givers (Ex. 36:2-7; 2 Cor. 9:6; 8-14). If you hold back your tithes, you sin against God. Yet, if you give to Him and trust Him, does He promise to give back to you greatly: ‘“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’” (Mal. 3:8-10). Are you withholding a tenth of your wages out of joy and not obligation? Will you trust God and give with joy when times are bad?
Give with the right motives. God will not bless you with material prosperity if that will only feed greed and covetousness in your life. If your heart is not right, your tithes are not acceptable to God. “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies -- I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.” (Isa. 1:13; Jer. 7:21-24). Likewise, you should never give publically for others to see your public generosity. God says that those people have already received their rewards. Those who give in secret will be rewarded in heaven. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6:3-4). Finally, we are to be cheerful givers: “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Are you giving cheerfully on a regular basis with the right motives? Are you telling others how much you give because you enjoy the reputation of being a philanthropist? If so, you are leaving nothing for God to reward you with.