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The basic concept of a sacrifice is: “the surrender or destruction of something of value for the sake of greater gain” – Random House College Dictionary.
In the Old Testament, the most common sacrifices involved slaying a valued animal (sheep, goat, ox, etc.) in order to obtain favor from God.
Exodus 12:5 – The Passover involved slaying a lamb without blemish.
Leviticus 22:18-22 – When someone offered a sacrifice as a burnt offering, it had to be without blemish. Anything with a defect was not acceptable.
John 3:16 – God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus was of great value to His Father, yet the Father made the sacrifice for us.
1 Peter 1:18,19 – We were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
The sacrifice of Jesus involved giving up the life of the sinless Son of God in order to offer salvation to all of us who have committed sin. This was truly a sacrifice of great value: God did not keep His best possessions for Himself, giving up what had little value to Him. He gave the best He had, even though it cost great pain.
2 Corinthians 8:9 – In teaching us about our giving to support the work of the church, Paul used Jesus’ sacrifice as an example to teach us to be sacrificial. Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. And ultimately He gave His life on the cross. That illustrates our need to give sacrificially.
2 Corinthians 8:1-4 – The Macedonians also serve as an example of sacrificial giving. They gave liberally even though it cost them deeply. They gave what had real value to them. That also illustrates our need to give sacrificially.
Malachi 1:8 – God rebuked the people of Israel because their gifts were not truly sacrificial. “When you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the Lord of hosts.
Malachi 1:13,14 – “You bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” Says the Lord. “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, … but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.”
Old Testament sacrifices show that God does not want leftovers of little value to us after we first satisfy our own pleasures. God wants the best we have to give.
We should give an amount large enough that we are sacrificing things of real value to us. We should give enough that we feel the effect. Are you giving a blemished sacrifice in your contribution, or does your contribution reflect a real sacrifice on your part?
Are there things that you really would like to have, and you could afford them were it not for the fact that you gave the money to the church? Does our giving to God show sacrifice for Him like He sacrificed for us?
Click here to learn more about giving to support the church.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2019
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.