The Cost of Sacrifice

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

Counting the Cost

Now there went with him great multitudes: and he turned, and said unto them,
“If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace. So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-33).

As we begin a new year, many people consider resolutions regarding new behaviors that they would like to begin.  Great resolutions are often made– and then just as easily broken.  Some persevere with their resolutions.  Many more start out well and fade quickly.  Far more are never realized in any way.  Such is the nature of people: the spirit is always more willing than the flesh (cf. Mark 14:38).

Jesus knows this, and that is why He intends for everyone to “count the cost” of serving Him.  It is a decision that is not to be taken lightly: Jesus is demanding all of those who come to Him.  They are to suffer the shame and humiliation of the cross.  They are to forsake every other connection and tie if need be to serve Jesus.  To become a disciple of Christ is to be entirely changed; life will never be the same (Galatians 2:20).

Yes, the cost is great, but the reward is even greater (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).  Furthermore, while the cost of not serving Jesus is milder in life, its consequences in death are quite severe (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).

All of these factors must be considered and a firm decision is called for.  There can be no “fence-sitting” on this question: you either decide to become a disciple of Christ or you decide to go your own way.  A lack of a decision is a decision against Him.

It is a decision that each must make for him or herself.  What will you choose– a hard life and a great eternity, or an easy life and a heinous eternity?  You must count the cost.

Even those who decide for Jesus must continually consider themselves and their faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Do you still have your first love (cf. Revelation 2:1-7)?  Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)?  Are you pressing upward toward the goal (Philippians 3:14-17)?

As we reflect upon the past year and make decisions for the new one, let us consider the state of our soul.  Let us count the cost and be firm in our decision.  Let us strive to grow in Jesus Christ!

Ethan R. Longhenry