I am changing things up a bit. Word of the Week is changing to “REFLECT ON THE WORD.” We will still study a word through the lens of Scripture, but the format will be different. Hope you like it.
This week’s word is Sacrifice. I thought it was appropriate since Good Friday is just around the corner when we acknowledge and honor the ultimate sacrifice.
How about us? Is what we consider sacrifice in our lives really sacrificial? Let’s take a look at what the Bible says.
Definition: An offering or service that costs you something of value. A voluntary loss.
Synonyms: Offer, Give, Surrender, Yield
David is one of the most famous and popular biblical characters, but like us, he struggled with sin. 1 Chronicles 21 tells about a time when David learned about proper sacrifice to God. He was King of Israel at this time and feeling proud of his accomplishments and power. So David took a census.
This census made God very angry and from our human perspective, it seems God overreacted a bit. However, the crux of the problem was trust. David took pride in his fighting men and was placing confidence in military strength instead of God.
The consequence of this sin was severe and David’s remorse was heartfelt. In order to stop the devastation caused by the sin, David obeyed God and built an altar on a threshing floor, which belonged to Araunah the Jebusite. Araunah offered to give his site to David for free, but David insisted on paying full price.
“I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing” (1 Chronicles 21: 24b NKJV).
David had already grieved God with his sin and knew his sacrifice must be done with pure motives and true repentance.
Perhaps David learned this lesson about righteous sacrifice from the disobedient actions of his predecessor, King Saul. After winning a battle Saul kept the choice animals, ignoring God’s clear command to destroy everything.
Saul defended his actions saying he wanted to sacrifice these fine animals to the Almighty. God called Saul out on this ruse speaking through the priest and judge Samuel: “…to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15: 22b).
God had just given Saul a great victory and his nod to God was to sacrifice something that not only cost him nothing but came from a disobedient act. That day God took the kingdom from Saul and his heirs.
If we look further in the Bible, we see the prophet Zechariah addressing pure sacrifice. When the Israelites (due to their own sin) were exiled to other lands after the obliteration of their country, the people mourned and fasted on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. Now that the Temple was being rebuilt the people asked if they should continue this tradition.
God’s answer through Zechariah: “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me” (Zechariah 7:5b)? God knew their hearts, and they didn’t have the right attitude of repentance and worship. God continued to tell them that compassion and kindness to each other and giving to those in need was God’s desire, not empty sacrifices done for show.
Jesus also spoke about sacrifice, especially to people who wanted to follow Him.
One example is when a religious leader told Jesus he would follow Him anywhere, and Jesus replied: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). Was this man prepared to be homeless for Jesus? Are you?
Below find Scripture verses describing true sacrifice. Study them this week and then ask yourself the same question God asked the Israelites: “Did you really fast for Me—for Me?
Noah sacrificed many years of his life and probably his standing in the community in order to obey God and build an ark. Genesis 6: 9-22
Abram (later God changed his name to Abraham) sacrificed living among family and friends to obey God. Genesis 12: 1-5.
Hannah sacrificed by keeping her promise to God and giving her first-born son to the Lord’s work. 1 Samuel 1:11, 24-27
Zacchaeus sacrificed his dignity to see Jesus, and his money to obey Jesus. Luke 19: 1-10.
Stephen sacrificed his life rather than deny Jesus. Acts 7: 51-59.
Saul (later known as Paul) sacrificed his powerful position in the Jewish religious community to speak the truth of Jesus Christ to the world. Acts 9: 1-19
Of course, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. If you think this was easy for Jesus, think again. Read Luke 22: 39-46
I thought about what this word means in my life, and I’m ashamed to admit that I am coming up short when it comes to authentic sacrifice with meaning and cost. What about you? If you have anything to add, please comment below. As you study the above Scriptures return and share your insights with our readers.
As we begin Holy Week, focus on Jesus’ sacrifice for you and all humanity.
Have a blessed Palm Sunday!