by Nan Corbitt Allen
A couple of generations ago, it wasn’t unusual that payment for goods and services was done in trade. In fact, I’ve heard that my grandfather, who was a pastor and a schoolteacher, occasionally got paid in chickens – live chickens. That tradition has pretty much since died out officially. (Now we have direct deposit and it would be hard to put live chickens into that scenario.)
However, several years ago, a pastor in Nova Scotia called us and asked for an accompaniment track to a song my husband and I had written. The man said that he led a small choir in a small church and that they didn’t have much money. My husband graciously offered to provide the track and told the pastor he’d send it at no charge.
The pastor was so grateful and humbled. He then explained that the church was in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia and that lobstering was their main source of income. That sounded interesting, and we could imagine that picturesque village with sounds of one of our songs being sung in the background. It was a humbling thought.
A couple of weeks later, a large package arrived at our door – a special delivery box from Canada that said “Live Lobsters” stamped on the outside. Yeah, we got paid in lobsters. We opened up the package that had been shipped in dry ice and found thirteen live, but a little weary, lobsters straight from the sea.
It was amazing! What a gift! We didn’t really know what to do: just how do you cook thirteen live lobsters anyway? We finally figured it out, extracted the meat, and froze it. Needless to say, we ate well for quite a while.
When I think back on that experience, I realize how important it is that we give the best that we have as offerings – the first fruits, if you will – to God, even if it means giving it to people in His name. I know He loves it when we do that, and this is how I know: King David had messed up – again. His subjects were being punished for something he did, and he asked God to ease up on the innocents and let him make atonement for his sin. God agreed.
David went to find a proper place to offer a sacrifice. There was a threshing floor nearby that would do just fine. As he was going to buy the threshing floor, the owner saw the king and his entourage on their way. The owner was humbled that the king would come to him, a mere servant. The man offered the king, not only the threshing floor at no cost, but his oxen and their yokes as wood for the fire – free of charge.
David could have accepted the offer and perhaps God would have accepted his sacrifice. Who knows? But David knew better. His absolute best was the only thing good enough. David’s answer to the guy always gets me. He said, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 2: 24 CSB).
We used to sing a hymn called “Give of Your Best to the Master.” The second verse goes like this:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Anytime I think I can give an effort a “phone it in” – in my work or my service – I think of David, this old hymn, and how giving my best honors God. Then I start to crave seafood.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17 NASB
About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections, most of these works in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner for her musicals written with Dennis, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed across the U.S. and around the world. Throughout their writing careers together, Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.
Nan lives with her husband Dennis in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. Her literary works include two Christian novels and three nonfiction books. The Allens have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.
Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bible passages given throughout the book make this a book for all readers.
Join the conversation: What gets in the way of giving your best?