This probably sounds dumb, but there’s something about that line, “I have something for you”, that warms my heart.
I hear it all the time in TV shows or movies. One character has gotten the other some unexpected, meaningful gift, and we all get to enjoy (or suffer through, take your pick) a touching, meaningful moment between the couple. It’s supposed to mean that these two are really meant for each other, or they really love each other, or they really are best friends, or they really do know everything about each other.
Whatever the specifics of the scene, the bottom line is clear: this relationship is real.
But before you start crying in lonely, I have something for you. It’s Deuteronomy 14. It’s an unassuming chapter. Moses’ sermon is nearing the halfway point, and he’s reminding the Israelites of some of the laws that God has given them over the years, namely, laws about food and tithe.
It can all be summed up pretty quickly: Don’t eat unclean animals. Pay tithes.
Great gift, huh?
Say no to this
Which is the more loving word to say? “No”? Or “Yes”?
It seems like God has a favorite. “No” is one of the first words out of His mouth to Adam and Eve when He tells them not to eat of all of the trees in the garden. He told Cain “no” when he wanted to offer fruit as a sacrifice instead of animals. He said “no” when the people banded together to try to build the tower of Babel. Leviticus and Numbers contain entire lists of nos as commandments.
And now, God is telling the Israelites (again) what they can and cannot eat. It’s a lot of “no”. It’s a lot of control.
So what do you think? Is “no” the more loving word?
We do a lot of wrestling with God’s nos in our life. There are so many things we want to do, eat, touch, try, taste, enjoy, begin, exchange, start over, stop, or become. And sometimes God just says “no”.
But what about when He says “yes”? In this chapter He says both. “Don’t eat pig or rabbit or camels”. “You may eat sheep and goat and oxen”. But you know that as Moses repeated these laws, there were more than a few Israelites in his audience who got angry all over again. Well, why can’t I–? But what’s wrong with–? What could possibly be the reason for God to say no to–?
We throw tantrums over God’s nos because that’s all we know of Him. We see Him as a taskmaster, a schoolmarm, an inspector leaning heavily over our shoulders, tsk-tsking at all our messy mistakes.
But what about when He says “yes”? This chapter shows us just one example of God’s “yes” coming right alongside His “no”. No, we can’t put whatever we want into our bodies, but yes, we can have mental and physical health. No, we can’t be with that person we thought was the one, but yes, we can be satisfied by God’s goodness. No, we can’t have the same blessings we see in someone else’s life, but yes, we can be blessed with the specific hopes and plans God has for us.
Stop complaining about all God wants to take from you. Open your eyes to every good thing He is ready to give you. This relationship is real. He has something for you. It’s the two most loving words in the world: “no” and “yes”.
“I am yours, and you are Mine.”
In the second half of this chapter, God tells the Israelites to match His “yes” with their own. By tithing.
Because, when you think about it, tithe isn’t about filling God’s coffers. He’s the Creator. He doesn’t need anything. Tithe is a reminder. It’s a reminder that we’re not alone in this world. It’s a reminder that we don’t just answer to ourselves. It’s a reminder that God wants us to say “yes” to Him.
It’s not an equal relationship. It barely matters that He tells us “no” sometimes, because His loving words are our key to happiness and peace and purpose. He gives us life twice – by creating us and then by giving us something to live for.
On the other hand, we have nothing to give Him but our ten percent tithe, our measly selves, our fickle hearts.
But God knows all this. And yet His “yes” still stands. Because at the end of the day, His love is a true gift. He gets nothing in return, but He still has something for you.
It’s unexpected. It’s meaningful. It’s touching. It means He really does know everything about you. It means you and Him truly are meant for each other.
So? Will you say “yes”?
What do you think? When has God told you “no” to one thing, but “yes” to something so much better?