Sunday, September 2, 2012

Modern Sacrifice

Modern Sacrifice
Sept 3, 2012
Mark 12:33  ". . . and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

What do you give to the one who has everything?  It is hard picking out a gift for someone who has anything a person could ever want.  This is especially true when it comes to the Lord Most High.  He has the whole world in His hands; there is nothing we could give Him that could possibly be seen as a valuable gift.  But I'd like to offer the Lord something, a gift that would warm His heart.  In the Old Testament, burnt sacrifices were quite often a gift viewed as fragrant to the Lord.  It is rather disgusting, but if someone wanted to bless God, he would choose an animal (probably a valuable bull), spill its blood on an alter, and light it on fire.  The bull was obviously rendered useless to its owner as the flames consumed it up.  In this manner, the giver was giving the Lord a precious gift that cost something.

But since Jesus abolished the need to sacrifice animals for the atonement of our sins, the practice of sacrificing fragrant offerings to the Lord as a gift offering fell to the wayside.  It isn't practiced anymore, and is actually not something the Lord wants from us anyway.  Yes, the Lord appreciates when we give Him gifts that cost us something, but He does not appreciate the slaughtering of animals any longer.  A modern day sacrifice to bless the Lord has a whole new meaning.  It should still cost us something, but not what you'd think.  The Lord doesn't want your money, your time, or anything you could offer up through the fire.  The Lord wants you to serve your fellow man.  Scripture says we should love our neighbor as ourselves and the Lord will view this as far more pleasing than a dead bull burned in the fire.

But loving our neighbor should cost something.  Just as the bull consumed in the fire cost the giver a significant amount, so should loving our neighbor.  Love is not a feeling; it is an action.  You cannot feel love for your neighbor, have a warm heart, and not do anything.  This doesn't count as pleasing to the Lord.  He doesn't want you to think kind thoughts toward your neighbor; He wants to you take care of your neighbor just like you would take care of yourself.  This is hard.  If you shovel the snow in your walkway during the winter, you should also shovel your neighbors snow.  This is pleasing to the Lord.  If you prepare a feast at your home, you should invite your neighbor and give him the seat of honor.  This is pleasing to the Lord.  If you would do something for yourself out of self-love, then you should also do this for someone else.  It is hard, probably more difficult than burning an animal, because it doesn't just cost money, it costs money AND time.

Taking time out of your schedule to serve someone else is not easy, but is a sweet and fragrant offering to the Lord.  Loving your neighbor as yourself is akin to sacrificing your self.  The Bible says that Jesus did it as the first example (in the literal sense), and it was a fragrant offering to the Lord, a precious gift.  We are then commanded to do likewise if we want to bless the Lord.  Laying down your self for your fellow man is the only way to give the Lord a gift He would appreciate.  This means laying down your own wants and needs in order to meet the wants and needs of someone else.  I have seldom seen this done, which would suggest the Lord doesn't get very good gifts from us.  It is not comfortable and would require sacrificing something you wanted to do for yourself, but the Lord would appreciate it.  Bless the Lord this week with a gift He would view as fragrant.  Go out of your way for your fellow man, giving up what you want to do for yourself.  Take care of them and the Lord will accept your gift.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Eph 5:2, 1 John 4:10

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