And the king said unto Araunah, “Nay; but I will verily buy it of thee at a price. Neither will I offer burnt-offerings unto the LORD my God which cost me nothing.”
So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver (2 Samuel 24:24).
David here demonstrates an excellent understanding of the core idea of sacrifice: sacrifice must come at a personal cost.
The heart of the definition of sacrifice is “to suffer loss.” If David accepted the gift of Araunah and made sacrifice, then David would not have really sacrificed anything– he was just using Araunah’s sacrifice for his own purposes. He recognized that such is not really sacrifice– what has he really lost?
It is very easy to seek after “painless sacrifice”: this mirage allows people to have the good feeling of having done some good without actually suffering any loss. The conscience is soothed and life is well. But is that what God is after?
Jesus saw many people putting lots of money into Temple coffers and yet commends the widow for her two mites (Mark 12:41-44). The people were providing painless sacrifices: they had plenty of other resources on which to live. The widow truly sacrificed: she gave all she had!
The way of Jesus is not “painless” sacrifice, but demands true sacrifice. The cross is not painless (Matthew 16:24). Losing one’s life for His sake is not painless (Matthew 16:25). Forsaking all other relations for Jesus is not painless (Matthew 10:34-39).
And, above all, living the life of a humble servant of Jesus is far from painless (Matthew 20:26-28)! As it is written,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service (Romans 12:1).
A “living” sacrifice– by no means a “painless” one. We can only be a “living sacrifice” when we suffer great loss of all that we have for His purposes– to devote our material resources to brethren and those in need (Galatians 2:10, 6:10), to devote our time to those in distress and for the furtherance of the Kingdom (James 1:27, Matthew 28:18), and to show in all things that Christ is our Lord and Savior (Galatians 2:20).
It will not be painless. Our offering to God will surely cost us. Yet if our living sacrifice is found pleasing to our Lord, the reward will make it all worthwhile (Romans 8:18). As God suffered great loss for us, let us suffer loss for God and His purposes!
Ethan R. Longhenry