Tag Archives: Sacrifice

A Sacrifice…That Costs Me Nothing?

It happened toward the end of King David’s reign that he sinned against the Lord and needed to make a sacrifice. Gad the prophet came to the repentant King and told him exactly where to do this – at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. And as David approached him, Araunah went to meet the King and pay homage to him…

And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”

David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 2 Samuel 24:21 (ESV)

And Araunah said what most of us would have probably said – you’re the king, take whatever you need:

Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.”

And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” 2 Samuel 24:22-23 (ESV)

David had a sacrifice to make, and Araunah was offering to give him whatever he needed to do it, and yet, David knew in his heart that something was not right about this arrangement. After all, they don’t call it a sacrifice for nothing:

But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel. 2 Samuel 24:24-25 (ESV)

David knew what all of us know: there is something about a sacrifice, you see, that should be…sacrificial. We know this in our hearts. The widow of Mark 12 certainly did…

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.

And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

The rich people put in far more than the poor widow, but the difference was that they gave a “sacrifice” that cost them…nothing. It came from their abundance. In other words, they weren’t going to miss it. In contrast, she put in everything…all she had to live on.  And her sacrifice pleased the Lord. And when you step back to consider things from God’s perspective, it all makes sense.  It’s not as if He needs our money, or our cattle or threshing floors. For the Psalmist said that He “owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10) But the Lord would surely agree with His apostle:

Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. Philippians 4:17 (ESV)

I don’t pretend to understand it all, but as she gave so sacrificially, more than bringing blessing to others, she was able to bring blessing to herself, as Paul said, “the fruit that increases to your credit.”  But it begs the question…why? What led her to give so sacrificially? Now Jesus doesn’t address the question of motivation in this story, but Scripture leads us to a definite understanding of why someone would make such a costly sacrifice: such gracious giving is ultimately not about currying favor with God, nor even largely about increasing favor to my credit…but about love. Undoubtedly, the widow gave sacrificially because she loved deeply.

Love is, after all, what brought about the most costly sacrifice ever:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 (ESV)


Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29: Mark 13


Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Preparing For The Hunger Games

Our tickets are purchased for next Friday morning at 12 midnight – the adventures of Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. Everyone in the Knowlton clan except our youngest has read the book, and we’re fired up to silently salute Rue with two fingers on the lips. It should be quite a night.

If you haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, there’s still time to get the first one under your belt before the movie. As for the second two, I read them, but as far as I’m concerned, they don’t compare. The first book was masterful, though – a delight. I read it when we went to Disney last year, and as much as I enjoyed the Magic Kingdom, I was almost tempted to stay home and read.  I hope the movie doesn’t disappoint.


The story: Sometime in the distant future, a post-apocalyptic world has emerged in former North America, and the country of Panem remains.  Within Panem, there are 12 districts, all ruled from a utopian like, technologically advanced city – Panem’s “Capitol.”  As punishment for an uprising nearly 75 years earlier, the Capitol now requires each district to hold a lottery each year, selecting one boy and one girl between ages 12 and 18 (24 in all) to head to an undisclosed location for a gladiatorial contest, a fight to the death where only one will survive.  And it’s all on television, yielding a combination of Ancient Rome and Survivor for your viewing pleasure (unless, of course, you’re a mom, dad, brother, sister, friend…or decent human being, for that matter).

Our heroine is 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, whose father has died in a mining accident sometime in the recent past.  She cares for her little sister Primrose (Prim), not to mention their mother who has never quite recovered from losing her husband.  Katniss is a hunter, illegally going outside the walls of District 12 with her male friend Gale to bring home food for her family, and to sell in the open market. 

When the lottery comes to pass, it just happens to be 12-year-old Prim’s first year of eligibility.  What are the odds she will be chosen?  And if she is, might just her sheltering older sister, the huntress, volunteer in her stead?


As I tried to think through what the book was saying (all books say something, even if the author herself is not clued in.) I thought to the comparisons with Ancient Rome.  It’s a fair comparison, and not original with me; however, there is one big difference – there are no Christians here, in fact no religion per se anywhere.  No mention of God or Supreme Being.  Nada.  John Lennon would be proud.  And yet – here’s the rub – throughout the book you will find great sacrifice, heroism, and deep, deep love. 

It’s funny, isn’t it?  We live in a world that assumes we can have characters like Katniss, including all the benefits of Christianity, morality and virtue, yet without…Christianity.  To be sure, the world Collins creates is predicated on a depth of great evil, but where does someone like self-sacrificing Katniss come from?  You see, it is assumed by most people in our culture (our public school system, of which our son is a part, is a classic example) that we can have moral excellence without God. I almost wish that were true, but it’s definitely not.  Such virtue may last for a while, while the vestiges of Christianity (including Christian teachers and the like) remain, but such goodness cannot last generation after generation.  Dinesh D’Souza, in What’s So Great About Christianity, quotes a man who makes this point, and I for one, was surprised to hear it from him:

The life of the West, Nietzsche said, is based on Christianity. The values of the West are based on Christianity. Some of these values seem to have taken a life of their own, and this gives us the illusion that we can get rid of Christianity and keep the values. This, Nietzsche says, is an illusion. Our Western values are what Nietzsche terms “shadows of gods.” Remove the Christian foundation, and the values must go too.

So read the book, go see the movie, and rejoice in the picture of love and sacrifice you will see again and again.  Yet know…and always remember, where such wonderful love ultimately comes from:

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV)


Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


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