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  • Writer's pictureSuzie Anne

A Sacrifice that Costs...Nothing?

Classical music plays softly in the background, the lights are dimmed, and a couple candles glow on the table. Your boyfriend is sitting across from you, and you’re sharing a delicious dessert to finish off your perfect Valentine’s Day dinner. He smiles, slides a box from his pocket—too big to be a ring, but definitely a piece of jewelry—and pushes it across the table. You open it, and a dazzling necklace with gemstones that match the color of your eyes glistens on the soft velvet.

Your heart fills with a rush of warmth, the knowledge that your boyfriend loves you enough to sacrifice his hard-earned money to buy a thoughtful gift, the final piece of the perfect night. And then he tells you, “My sister’s boyfriend got this for her, but when he broke up with her, she gave it to me.” That warm feeling disappears. “She knew I was looking for a gift for you and said it would match your eyes perfectly.” Gratitude for his sister’s thoughtfulness fills you, but it stings that your boyfriend didn’t take the time to look for a gift for you himself—he thought of you, but didn’t sacrifice his time or money to act on the thought.

One of my sisters and I are reading through the Bible this year, going chronologically. We just finished Second Samuel, which finishes with a story of an older King David offering God a sacrifice in atonement for his sin. The specific place where God told him to build an altar was owned by another man, who offered the place to King David for free. King David refused, saying “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24a, ESV)

At first glance, I thought King David was being arrogant and prideful. After all, the price they settled on wasn’t a significant amount for a king. But as I thought about and read some more, God revealed that it was the posture of King David’s heart, not the price he paid, that was significant.

Unlike the scenario above, King David was devoted to God and loved Him enough to refuse to offer God something that didn’t cost him anything. He understood that love—true love—costs. It’s a choice, not a feeling, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 lists these as the characteristics of love: patience, kindness, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoing but with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never ends.

Though King David wasn’t perfect, he loved God with his whole heart, and it was that love that prompted him to refuse the opportunity to give a gift that meant nothing. No matter how much—or how little—an offering cost him, King David refused to merely go through the motions. The thought convicted me—do I offer sacrifices to God that cost me nothing?

As a Christian, I’m not required to offer animal sacrifices as they did in King David’s time. Jesus’ blood on the cross has fulfilled my requirement for atonement (right standing with God). But in Hebrews 13:15-16 it says that sacrifices of praise, doing what is good, and sharing what we have is pleasing to God.

Of course, each of these things is pleasing to God whether or not doing them is a sacrifice, but King David’s determination got me thinking. I really enjoying singing hymns and worship songs, but do I only do it when life is good and going as I expect it to? Or do I only do good when it’s convenient for me, makes me look good, or is beneficial—and not when a job or friendship is on the line? And is my sharing limited to what’s convenient, or do I willingly give my time, talents, and money back to God?

These are hard questions, and sacrifices will look different for each person. The level of sacrifice isn’t the important part here; it’s a heart that’s wholly devoted to God, willing to give up, take on, or pursue whatever God is calling us to. I want to be so in love with God, so devoted to Him, that I refuse to offer lip service. How about you?

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