It all began at the beginning.
Not very profound, you say? Sometimes we have to see where something began to understand its significance. Let’s go back to Genesis:
“In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also presented an offering—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering.
Cain was furious, and he looked despondent. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4: 3-7
Now look at Proverbs 21. Sacrifice is not something to be taken lightly. In modern America we see little of this principle of sacrifice. Our measly attempts to “give up something” pale in comparison to the sacrifices that many of our brothers and sisters choose every day of their life. I dare you to look at the web page, The Voice of the Martyrs where you will see what Chinese Christians experience on a regular basis. While God might not call us all to sacrifice in the same way, His Word remains the same for all of us; and Proverbs 21:3 explains wisdom’s perspective on this word, sacrifice:
“Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3
I know. It sounds easy, but when you look at our world today, do you not think how differently it would look if people would choose righteousness and justice? The persecution of Christians would be non-existent. Our sacrifices would be similar in scope. Giving up some of our comforts and pleasures to help meet the needs of those less fortunate. Going without (fasting) in order to seek the Lord’s direction. Using our resources for the common good.
While all of those choices are reasonable, they are not realized. Some of us will choose to be givers instead of takers, but most of us have not and may never be called to truly sacrifice.
But we are called to what is right and just.
Because sin entered the world with Adam, Cain’s jealousy and anger resulted in murder. His sacrifice didn’t please the Lord. Why do you think that was true? Was it his motive behind it? Did he give out of love or obligation? Whatever the reason, he chose to sin against God. The punishment? He spent a lifetime of wandering in the wilderness. Banned from the Lord’s presence, his sin cost him separation from God.
And it’s the same today. God’s requirement has never changed. A sacrifice in the Old Testament was meant to be an offering. Sin has consequences, separating man from a Holy God. The offering was mean to pay the penalty, or penance. In the New Testament, Jesus is speaking and a scribe asks Him,
“Which command is the most important of all?” “This is the most important,”Jesus answered:Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One.Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
“The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”
Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher! You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer.” Mark 12: 28-34
In our search for wisdom, it seems possible that the key to finding it is in the pursuit.
“The one who pursues righteousness and faithful love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Proverbs 21:21
All that I am and all that I have comes from the Lord. I will never be satisfied with the world’s ideas or philosophies. My feelings and emotions cannot be trusted. No human argument or wisdom can give me the answers my heart longs for. I must be willing to sacrifice opinion, convenience and doubt and place my simple faith in the God who created me with a purpose–designed by Him, and different from any other person on this planet. Any thought or idea or plan that my minuscule brain can conjure up is nothing compared to the thoughts He has for me.
“No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the Lord.” Proverbs 21:30
Doesn’t it make sense, as big or as small as the sacrifice may seem, to trust Him? To lay it all down and look to Him for the victory?
“A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever…Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. 16 Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.” Hebrews 13: 8,15-16