Tag Archives: Sacrificial giving

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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