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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Gift of the Maud Pie”

As an Aspie, one of the little nuances I get is fixating on something that most people would completely overlook. When it comes to Christian living, the big one for me is in certain praise and worship songs. Specifically, ones that feature the singers or praise/worshippers singing about how they will do nothing but sing the praises of God for all eternity in the new life to come.

While God is greatly to be praised above all other names and things, and there is none higher than God, I can’t help but think about that statement. Somehow I don’t really picture God as having such a huge ego that he would create billions of people to do nothing but tell him how great he is forever. Yet that, in turn, got me thinking even further about a more general idea: Does God really “need” our praise at all? We are his creations, after all. Anything we would say or do he already knows full in advance. As a amateur writer myself, if I was to write a character who sang about how great I was, it would be rather meaningless in the real world. How much less one of God’s own creations? Besides, as the Bible says, and as many pastors are fond of quoting, all of our good deeds and praise are ultimately “filthy rags” to God compared to his holiness. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6) In another sermon I heard once, it was likened to anything that we do good for God is ultimately the same as a toddler picking dandelions or drawing something crude on construction paper: worthless and/or ugly to the recipient. So why bother?

Well, for once, the message itself of an episode of MLP:FIM seemed to give me the answer rather than me looking in an episode for a message. In this episode, Pinkie Pie was determined to get her older sister Maud the best gift ever for their annual day they spent together as Maud always gave her the nicest gifts, and every year she always felt her gift was inferior compared to hers. Yet when she became too determined to outdo her, to the point of giving away her own prized possession to try and get the best gift, Maud reminded her that the whole exchange was never supposed to be a competition…that the ultimate reason for it was to show that they cared about each other; that the act of gift-giving was a sign and expression of love.

In the same vein, thinking again to the “character in a story” analogy, we might be creations of God but, unlike the characters I come up with in my own writing, we get to choose our own story. We can choose to praise God or not to praise him, and since we have the option to do it or not do it as well as decide when and where, that makes it more valuable.

And as for the “dirty rags” analogy, a bouquet of dandelions may not mean much in the grand scheme of things but, to a child, that was the prettiest flowers they could find and a symbol of their affection. And a crude drawing on construction paper might not be worth anything in terms of monetary value, but the time and effort put into it, as well as simply doing it out of an act of love and goodwill, certainly makes it valuable to parents.

For God, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, it was never so much about what physical commodity was presented to him as an offering so much as the spirit behind it. In ancient Israel, it wasn’t the holocausts and sin offerings that God desired so much as obedience to his Word; doing good and avoiding sin. (Isaiah 58:1-14); “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened — burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”” (Psalm 40:6-8). It was showing devotion to his command that he considered a true sacrifice and honor to him.

Likewise, when Jesus pointed out the poor widow’s contribution in the Temple, He showed that the amount of money given to God wasn’t nearly as important as the spirit behind it and the intention. “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”” (Mark 12:41-44).

Maybe a person can’t “outgive” God, and definitely nobody can give or take anything from God that leaves him better or worse off, but things that are done in his Name are not only not wasted, but are not to be “pooh-poohed” or compared to others either. God sees the heart and inner thoughts of people, and so what ultimately matters to him is what matters to us personally rather than anyone else. Keep that in mind the next time you feel a sense of jealousy, shame, or even “competition” when seeing other Christians and their good works.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for everything you have blessed me with, both materially, in terms of people in my life, and in terms of my talents. Please help me to use these to make a fitting and loving offering to you every day; always coming from the heart, from genuine desire, and out of love for you. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”