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WHAT IS SACRIFICE?

July 8, 2015

 

Text: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

We human beings frequently have trouble with the concept of sacrifice. However, the topic of sacrifice appears over 300 times in the Bible.  In our materialistic society we have great difficulty in grasping and implementing sacrifice as an important part of our lives. In fact, this has been a failing of mankind throughout history. However, this notion must become an important practice in our lives.

What is sacrifice? Sacrifice is taking something out of my control and rendering it to God’s control. All of our possessions are endowments from God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  James 1:7  These gifts are given into our lives for management in behalf of God, their true owner. This substance is for our ownership and use. It is neither to be hoarded nor wasted. It may be thought of as a trust. We, as trustees, must manage our money and possessions in a faithful and useful manner. But, as God needs  it, we may freely deprive ourselves of it and render it to God for his use. Sacrifice would also include our goods and talents given freely to help the needy. Let us remember that sacrifice is not limited to what we put into the collection plate. When we as individuals see the destitute and sufferers we must help them by giving money or goods to alleviate their scarcities. “And the king will answer them, Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

However, God is not pleased with just any sacrifice. Our offerings must be up to Gods’ standards. As the Jewish Temple was being reconstructed after the return from captivity there were many who tried to deceive the Lord. They offered blemished animals to be sacrificed. God’s laws instructed the people to offer perfect animals. (Leviticus 1:10) Unfit offerings are abominable to the Lord of heaven. “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 1:8  God is worthy of the best of our donations. Nothing less will do. Here is a rule of God about our sacrifices. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” II Corinthians 9:6-7   When our hearts are insincere our sacrifices are ineffective. When our behavior is wrong our sacrifices are vain. Listen to the prophet Amos. “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs, to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:22-24 God desires our pure hearts and our righteous behavior.

Our text above asserts that God demands our bodies as spiritual worship. Not that God wants us to burn our bodies.  But he stipulates that our whole beings must be devoted to him, our very selves. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your hearts and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-38

We must give all of ourselves to God’s use in his kingdom. And that is basically selflessness.

 

REM

 

 

 

 

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