“I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” II Samuel 24:24b
Our Sunday school class just finished a study on the life of David. This verse has stuck with me, and I’ve been mulling over it during the past few weeks. How often do I give “offerings” to the Lord that cost me little or nothing at all? I make a meal for someone, or give some money to a friend in need, or maybe, I tell someone that I’m praying for them. Those are all nice things, but did they really cost me something? What value did they really have?
On the other hand, I think of the times that God has asked me to give something of great worth to Him – my talents, my desires, my health, four of my children – and I hesitated, I withdrew, or I questioned.
I recently read this statement:
They say: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
Truth: “You knew exactly what you had; you just thought you’d never lose it.”
I began to contemplate this thought, and I really think it’s pretty accurate. Yes, there is something to be said for immaturity and naivety at times, but usually we know we are blessed and we truly value the things that we have, but we never think that we may have to part with them. We cannot imagine life without those things, until we are left grasping for the remains of what we once had.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
If we learn to become “living sacrifices” unto God, these things that we hold on to so tightly, would become gifts to God. Everything we have and everything that we are would be available to God at all times. When we truly understand that we were created for the foremost purpose of bringing glory to God, and when we truly believe that He does all things for our greatest good, we will find it much easier to allow Him to control and direct our paths, even when they lead through deep waters and dark shadows.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
We will live with joy and peace, knowing that this life is but a vapor, and that eternity is our forever home. The goal of this life, is simply to serve God, share the gospel, and prepare for heaven. The act of giving up those precious things allows us to receive even greater things. Our loss is actually our gain – another seeming contradiction in the Christian life.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:7-8
When we finally allow this truth to reach our hearts, we will live with new perspective and new purpose. I have come to welcome opportunities for growth and chances to make valuable sacrifices to God. These often come with accompanying trials and difficulties. This past Friday, I was given the news that my thyroid cancer may be back, after only two years. Yes, it was disappointing to know that the surgery and radiation that I had was not sufficient, but on the other hand, I am looking forward to what I will learn in the coming months. Our God is a God of many awesome qualities and personality traits. He is ever longing to reveal Himself to us in a new way. Somehow, anything that I can sacrifice to Him doesn’t quite seem worthy of what I gain. May you discover the joy that comes from willing sacrifice, and the fulfillment that comes out of the losses in your life. ( Read Romans 8)
Original material by Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp42p11-03-13