And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. Genesis 47:5-6
As a child I remember being instructed to give of my best to the Lord. My parents, Sunday schools teachers, preachers and other spiritual influencers all trying to gently guide me in the way of a disciple. Desiring me to give the choicest portions of my time, the thoughts of my mind, the deepest desires of my heart, the best of my overall abilities and strength, to my Saviour. For He deserves them.
Yet, despite that early and ongoing coercing, how many years did I spend giving Him the mixture of best, part-best, second-best, and sometimes nothing at all?
I am shamed by the above verse. It shows Pharaoh, an idolater, giving the best of his entire country to God's anointed people. In essence, to God himself. He highly esteemed Joseph. So much so that he gave of his best. It makes me question whether his opinion of Joseph was greater than my opinion of Jesus? Did he esteem the Saviour of his country more pre-eminently than I do of the Saviour of my only soul?
Scriptures like this challenge me. How about you? Do you give Jesus your best? Are you still to work out what 'best' means in all the circumstances of your time awake?
In the gospels we read where the disciples dropped everything to follow Jesus, and think, "that's fine for them. But I still need to work." That time with Jesus was different. It was ministry.
However, we also read of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and think their circumstances were somehow different to ours as well. Maybe with less responsibilities. Yet, they all had jobs, families, and daily issues. Their children still needed to be educated, taught how to make a living, and how to follow God in a meaningful way. They raised cattle, sheep and goats, and were always busy. But, they gave their lives to God and He led them. Their daily affairs were undertaken in righteousness. Their lives where holy — wholly committed to God. And God knew it.
There is little difference between us and them when it comes to ‘best’.
Can you give more?
Can you add an extra half-chapter to your daily reading? That’s and extra 182 chapters over a year. More than half of the New Testament.
How about adding an extra three minutes to your prayer time? That's an additional 18 hours of prayer over the year.
An extra phone call to help someone in need once a week? That’s another 52 people whose day you’ve made special.
A one-day fast every month? That’s a lot of self-denial and self-discipline.
God calls us to voluntarily give our lives to Him. But He doesn't desire foolishness. We can't simply walk out of work at certain times for prayer. God is more realistic than that. But we can spare a minute or two at lunchtime to pray for someone. Neither can we stop in traffic and read a Psalm when taking the kids to school. But we can put aside some time when we get home. There are plenty of ways we can keep our Saviour before our eyes where he belongs.
Pharaoh never let himself forget his gratitude to Joseph, and wasn’t afraid to share his sentiments. We can also show God our appreciation by rearranging our private time to suit our Saviour, giving him the choicest cuts of the day. Those small adjustments add up to huge spiritual changes and a far deeper relationship with our Lord.
Today’s prayer:Dear Lord, thanks for the reminder that an idolater can give of his best to God, why can't I? Please help me sort out what ‘best’ means for me and give it to you, knowing that you gave your best for me.
Photo by Jon Tyson