Sacrifice

 

What does it mean to sacrifice something? Is sacrifice a good thing or a bad thing? Is sacrifice a rational thing to do? If God requires sacrifice how could it be a bad thing?

 

Sacrifice: According to the American heritage Dictionary.

1.      The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person.

2.      Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

Sacrifice: According to Ayn Rand.

3.      Giving up a greater value for a lesser value.

 

The sacrifice God demands is the first and second type.

 

The god of this world and his helpers demand the third type of sacrifice.

 

“Sacrifice” is used 166 times in the Bible. That more than doubles to 388 times if we count all the forms of the word, such as sacrifices, sacrificed, and sacrificing for example. Even if we restrict ourselves to the New Testament, “sacrifice” is mentioned 59 times! I’m thinking sacrifice must be a pretty important concept if it’s mentioned that many times.

 

The first mention of sacrifice is in Genesis and the last is in Revelation. In other words from cover to cover the Bible talks about sacrifice.

 

Whether or not sacrifice is seen as a good thing or a bad thing often depends on the viewpoint of the observer. And, that viewpoint will change with time. In other words, the outcome may influence how we perceive a sacrifice.

 

If you forfeit new clothes and a 40-hour workweek for 18 years so your child can go to college you will probably see that sacrifice as a good and noble thing, if your child actually decides to go to college and actually does well. If that child goes to college and spends his time partying and getting failing grades you will probably see the sacrifice as a noble waste of time.

 

If you are the child and your parents spend most of their time working to provide nice homes and nice cars, big screen TVs and the best schools, you might see that as a good and noble sacrifice or you might see that as a big waste of time if what you needed were fulltime parents!

 


Let’s consider the case of Cain and Able.

*   (Gen 4:3-7 NIV)  In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. {4} But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, {5} but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. {6} Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? {7} If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

*   (Heb 11:4 NIV)  By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

 

They both offered an “Offering” or sacrifice to the LORD. But the sacrifice was the wrong sacrifice from Cain. The lesson to be learned is that not all sacrifices are equal. In fact not all sacrifices are acceptable.

 

Now consider the case of the sacrifice offered by Jesus. In this case His very life was offered. And that sacrifice was offered for people most would not consider worthy. Yet this was the sacrifice required to accomplish the goal. And although it would seem this was an Ayn Rand type sacrifice it was not! For you see the sacrifice accomplished precisely what was intended. Namely, it provided the opportunity for redemption to every man, woman or child that ever lived. And although we may wonder why Jesus would die for us, the fact is that not only did he die for us but did it willingly, without coercion! So what was in for Jesus?

*   (Rom 5:7-8 NIV)  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. {8} But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s it. God had the love of a parent for a child, even a wayward child. And as parents have been known to die for their children so Jesus was willingly to die for us. And that allows us to become children of God! Jesus knew what He wanted and was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish His goal.

 

Now consider these verses.

*   (Heb 9:27-28 NIV)  Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, {28} so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

*   (Heb 10:10-12 NIV)  And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. {11} Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. {12} But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

*   (Heb 10:26 NIV)  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,

*   (Rom 12:1 KJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

 

Let’s sum it all up.

*   Sacrifices may be good or bad.

*   Sacrifices may turn out good or bad.

*   The judgment of good or bad often times depends on the perspective of the observer.

*   Sacrifice as required by God is definitely good.

*   In fact it hardly seems fair to consider our “reasonable service” as sacrificial.

*   Sacrifice as God has it planned is a win-win affair.

Let me put this sacrifice thing in a simple and somewhat silly way. If I asked you to sacrifice a one hundred dollar bill today for a thousand dollar bill tomorrow. Would you be willing to make that sacrifice? Well yes, you might say, I think I would! In fact I would be willing to make that sacrifice each and every day of my life.

 

So let me point out that the deal God is offering makes my deal seem pretty insignificant. He is offering a magnificent tomorrow. This offer is not for just the rest of this life but forever. Eternally. And what does He ask of you, not much?

*   (Rom 12:1 KJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.