Day 128: What sacrifice really means (1 Chronicles 18-21)

Posted: August 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

While Araunah was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel; his four sons who were with him hid themselves. Then David approached, and when Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground. David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.” Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.” But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels of gold for the site. David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. -1 Chronicles 21:20-26

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been in this situation once before in our lives: I sit there in the pew on Sunday morning. All is well. We worship. We sing. We pray. We listen. And then comes the part, that selfishly, I kind of dread. The offering. I know it sounds bad, and I know this is a stumbling block in my life, but I just parting with my money. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have a lot of it to begin with, but if I have a $10 or a $20 burning a hole in my wallet, I really do struggle with whether or not I want to put it in the plate or not.

I think to myself, “I really need to spend this $20 on groceries,” or “Man, this $10 sure would be nice to pay the electric bill this week.” Time and time again, I struggle with giving up my finances to God, and making sure He is getting a portion back, but there is still that sinful attitude of selfishness that pulls at me. It’s a struggle, and I’m not ashamed to admit it freely here.

It’s funny, being on the poorer side of the economic totem pole, God still finds ways to bless me when I look to him. Honestly, July was an especially brutal month for us in the Minor homestead. Without going into much detail, money was extremely tight. Car taxes were due, both car registrations and emissions were up for renewal, and on top of that, both of our vehicles decided it was time to cost us hundreds more in repair costs. I got to the point where the only thing I could do was look to the sky and say, “Lord, I don’t know how we are going to do this, but I know you can help us through it.” Lo and behold, last week, God gave us His subtle reminder that He is there. We open an envelope out of our mailbox, with no return address, and there is n anonymous typed letter that reads: “A little something to help you out.” Contained in that letter was a substantial gift card to Wal-Mart.

It brings shivers down my spine just thinking about it. The timing of it couldn’t have been better. I truly believe it was God’s way of showing us that He will always provide. I also believe it was a not-so-subtle reminder that although we may not have much to give, it is important to give something. Again, speaking honestly, I can say that I have seriously lacked in the giving department. I know that I should, but for some reason, I feel like I need to hold on to every penny I have. I forget that God was the one who gave me every penny to begin with, and that all of it is His anyways!

In the above story, David sinned when he took a census of his people. He did it out of pride, to take stock of his might. God burned with anger, and gave David three options for punishment, being delivered into the hands of his enemies, three years of famine or three days of plague. David chooses the plague and it wipes out 70,000 Israelites! Harsh! But after the plague, David spots the angel of the LORD on a threshing floor, and offers to buy the property from the owner to build an altar. The owner, seeing the angel and in awe of the king David, offers up the land (and the animals for sacrificing) for free, but David sticks to his offer – full price – for the land. He knew that for it truly to be a sacrifice, it had to cost him something. A real sacrifice means nothing if it costs you nothing. If I were to be given $20 by somebody, and then offer that same $20 in the offering plate, it wouldn’t be a true sacrifice, because it cost me nothing to get that $20. God wants us to give voluntarily, but he wants it to mean something. Giving something to God that has cost you nothing doesn’t display commitment, it demonstrates laziness!

Time and time again, God proves Himself to be faithful to me, and I still take pride in my financial burdens and worry about them. I’m not through struggling with it. I know this. But little by little, God has shown me in my journey that giving sacrificially to the LORD will reap spiritual benefits. In some cases, like my little mystery note last week, He may even bless with practical benefits. I need to learn to give more sacrificially, not just at times where I think I can afford it, or times where I feel like I may have “a little extra laying around.” It’s the sacrifices that come during hard times that will mean the most, the ones that demonstrate the most faith.

Here’s to working on an attitude of faith that isn’t afraid to realize what sacrifice really means.

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