I can remember working at a church plant years ago, and reading my Bible to receive a massive smack in the face! Like many other people and many other passages, I regularly read something for the 3rd/4th/5th time and end up getting something completely different from it than I did the first few times I read it or heard it.
2 Samuel 24:20-25.
20-21 Araunah looked up and saw David and his men coming his way; he met them, bowing deeply, honoring the King and saying, “Why has my master the king come to see me?”
“To buy your threshing floor,” said David, “so I can build an altar to God here and put an end to this disaster.”
22-23 “Oh,” said Araunah, “let my master the King take and sacrifice whatever he wants. Look, here’s an ox for the burnt offering and threshing paddles and ox-yokes for fuel—Araunah gives it all to the King! And may God, your God, act in your favor.”
24-25 But the King said to Araunah, “No. I’ve got to buy it from you for a good price; I’m not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice.”
David is so adamant that his offering to God has to be a sacrifice that he is unwilling to let anything, anyone, and any position of power get in the way of that. Wow! As soon as the reality of David’s comments and actions hit me, and made sense, my first thought was wondering why I had never fully grasped it before? Maybe I just didn’t want to be held accountable to true sacrifice?
As a worship pastor, would I do what I do if there was no financial gain? Would I still put in the hours of administration? Would I still get up at 3.30 am on Sundays to start stage set up on time? Would I still prioritize finding time to practice specific instrument and vocal parts? These questions have begun to haunt me because my honest answer is that I probably wouldn’t get up at 3.30 every Sunday, I would probably let administration slide, so someone else has to fix some problems, and there would probably be weeks where I would just show up completely unprepared for rehearsal, and just wing my parts.
Beyond this though, beyond the physical sacrifices we make, there are also financial sacrifices that are required of us.
David was the King, he could have whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it, but when it came to his offering, his sacrifice to God, he was unwilling to give something that cost him nothing.
He tells Araunah (when offered both a free sacrifice and free tools) that he must pay for it, as he cannot give to God that which has cost him nothing.
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At a church I worked at early in my ministry years, my worship pastor would constantly poke at me for not changing my guitar strings anywhere near enough. He would joke around and mock my dull-sounding Taylor Guitar compared to his rich-sounding Martin Guitar, and I would just laugh along.
What was really happening, though, was that I was getting frustrated.
“Does he not know that I couldn’t afford to change my strings that regularly?”
“Does he even know what my monthly budget looks like?”
The answer, of course, is no. He had no idea what my personal finances looked like, but he did know that my sacrifice was costing me very little.
The reality is that every time I grabbed a Fast Food dinner before rehearsal on a Thursday night, I was putting that above my sacrifice to God.
My sacrifice was costing me nothing.
I am sure that I am not alone here. The life that God has called us to is an expensive one. It requires of us; our time, energy, and money. Even though most of us regularly fail in these areas, there is opportunity!
Today can be the day we set a new president in our lives. Today can be the day that we no longer wake up and go through servant motions, but rather, the day we decide to begin each day, asking, “what can I sacrifice today?”
The Bible is full of examples of people who, amid mockery, sacrificed for God. From a small boy who decided he would give up his lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish, to a fully grown woman who spent a year’s wages on perfume, to break it open and wash Jesus’ feet.
Although we don’t have the same opportunities to bring a sacrifice to God as they did, we still have the opportunity.
Weekly we can practice music parts, listen through setlists so we’re prepared to run a camera, we can prepare to serve in Kid’s church, we can make sure the front door we’re going to stand at, and shake hands, has a cleaned glass window.
We can put gas in a team member’s car, gift away extra musical items or ministry gear, treat everyone on the team to coffee, or even pay to have new strings on our guitars.
What I love most about this is that It applies to everyone in the church. We can all find areas to give and serve sacrificially.
All of these things will cost something, and that’s exciting! There shouldn’t be a single day that we could go without finding at least one thing to sacrifice to God!
Worship is a lifestyle, and so our lives get to be centred around sacrifice, from days of small physical sacrifice, to days of great financial sacrifice, we get to live every day as an opportunity to worship God the same way David did when he steadfastly refused to give to God something that cost him nothing!