Altar Envy

by Terri Gillespie

When you make for Me an altar of stones, do not build it from cut stone, for if you use a tool on it, you will have profaned it. Exodus 20:25 TLV

The familiar funky cloud of envy settled on me, despite my pasted-on smile and enthusiastic congratulations. That old adage to “fake it until you make it” was not working. Once again, I was left behind while others moved forward in success and triumph and breakthroughs.

What if I followed their passions? What if I adapted my “stones”—my gifts—to be more like those I admired? Trim my “stones” to replicate their altars. Perhaps then God would see and bless my offerings as He had theirs.

The children of Israel had escaped the bondage of slavery after 400 years. Those who were grateful wanted to find ways to show that gratitude to their Redeemer. While Moses, Aaron, and the tribe of Levi were managing the building of the Tabernacle and all its implements of sacrifice and worship (Exodus 25ff), the people could build their own altars for their offerings.

In the verse before, God tells His people that He is content with an earthen altar:

You are to make an altar of earth for Me, and there you will sacrifice your burnt offerings, your fellowship offerings—your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you. Exodus 20:24 TLV

The children of Israel did not have to make a fancy altar to show their gratitude and be right with God, but if they wanted to, then just find some rocks—of which there were plenty in the Sinai—and assemble the altar.

Guess what? That meant Shlomo’s altar would look different than Uri’s or Judah’s—each altar would be unique.

Our “altars”—the place we give our offerings to the Lord, will all be distinctively different from others. Whatever our gifts, they are individually formed by God—which means our offerings will be distinctly different from others.

What are our offerings? For writers it can be the devotionals we post on social media, or novels and books helping others live faithfully, or letters to the editor. For artists it can be paintings, drawings, handcrafts, or sculptures. For lyricists and musicians, songs that edify and worship and praise our God. The offerings of teachers, parents, grandparents . . . You get the idea.

Our pasts, our challenges, our testimonies are part of the composite of each and every stone. Therefore, our gifts will always be different than those of someone else. That’s the beauty of how God sees us and how we fit into the Greater Altar as one Body.

It was only within the last few years that I realized the “stones” God provided for my altar were the stones He wanted me to use. He oversees my gifts and watches for my offerings in love.

The altar will look however it is going to look, based on the stones He provides for us. We are not to try to make it look “nicer” or more like another’s altar. That corrupts our offerings. Whatever He has provided for us, He wants us to use those stones to give our offerings to Him.

Not sure what your stones are? Know that you—your earthly being—is a good enough altar for our Heavenly Father. He loves the sweet surrender of our hearts as the greatest offering—our worship, praise, and gratitude.

Eventually, you will notice the stones. Gather them and build the altar that is exclusively yours. Then, give the Lord your offerings. Everyone’s altar is beautiful.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

Join the conversation: What does your altar look like?

4 thoughts on “Altar Envy

  1. I love, “Eventually, you will notice the stones. Gather them and build the altar that is exclusively yours.” Thank you for sharing this, Terri!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much Terrie! This image of my pile of unique and precious rocks is helping me so much as I try to figure out what God is calling me to do. It’s hard not to compare with others who seem to be doing it “better”. You have lifted my heart this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

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