What type of sacrifice am I talking about? There’s a hint in the title of this blog. It’s not money, and it’s not the groceries you place in the food bank bin at your local supermarket. It’s not sending a bouquet, and it’s not giving someone an expensive, ornate gift. I firmly believe the greatest sacrifice of our modern era is the sacrifice of our time. And that is precisely what those around us need—our time. Time has always been valuable to God.
Let’s go back 3500 years to the time of Moses. If you are anything like me, the detailed description of sacrificial offerings in the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus aren’t your favourite go-to readings. Recently, however, I had an a-ha moment as I listened to a lecture about the Burnt Offerings described in Chapter One of Leviticus. I had to look this up in several translations to make sure.
I had always thought the priests killed the sacrificial animals for this particular offering, but that was not the case. The person who brought the offering stood just inside the entry of the outer court and then slaughtered the domestic animal they probably raised themselves. They then presented that offering to the priests who performed the ritual necessary to complete their offering.
Their offering didn’t just cost them financially. There was a tremendous amount of time involved in caring for that animal. It would involve the entire family. Parents charged children to watch over the animal as it grazed. They watched their father do everything in his power to ensure that the animal was in peak condition on the day it was to be sacrificed. There was an emotional component within that sacrifice of time. Although livestock owners were pragmatic about their stock, there was still an emotional component.
Is there truly a sacrifice without heart, time, and effort involved?
Yes, there was a provision for a financial equivalent of the price of a sacrificial offering in some rituals. However, these were only in place for those who did not have the physical means to provide an animal.
In Jesus’ day, sellers of doves and other animals at the Temple took advantage of the ancient Judaic law’s loophole. Convenience was available, but it came with a hefty surcharge. No muss, no fuss, no emotional attachment, no genuine sacrifice beyond your coin purse. Just a quick trip to the temple supermarket, no time wasted.
Perhaps this is why Jesus flipped the tables in the Temple. Jesus knew a sacrifice meant nothing if there wasn’t an offering of the heart attached. God isn’t broke; He doesn’t need our money. God doesn’t have a sudden hankering for brisket.
God requires our obedience, but He longs for our free-will love offerings given from hearts brimming with gratitude. God always rewards those who put time and effort into their giving. Without those two components, is there truly a sacrifice involved?
These days, it is so convenient to give financially. Send an e-transfer, pull out your PayPal app, order a gift from Amazon and have Amazon do the gift wrap and they’ll even drop that gift off at the recipient’s door. No need to interrupt your Netflix or Disney+ time. No need to make a phone call, why not just send a quick text? If you put enough emoticons and acronyms, you don’t even have to type out actual words. Less effort, and it’s the thought that counts, after all.
A thought doesn’t count for much to the lonely, the outcast, the grieving, or the depressed. Good intentions mean little to a soup kitchen, which needs all hands on deck at holiday times. Although a financial donation is welcome, they need sweat equity and your time.
2020 has proven most of us lied when we said, “If I had more time I would do more for others.”
Does a ‘thinking of you’ response to a tragedy do anything to lift a person’s load? Take the time to reach out and offer practical help; such as grocery shopping, kid watching, grass cutting, or snow shovelling.
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Many churches are currently closed in compliance with government restrictions because of an upsurge of outbreaks of COVID-19. Some churches can remain open. These churches need to disinfect between services, and they need to have extra greeters at the door to ensure people are keeping others safe. All churches need drivers to deliver meals or to run errands for shut-ins. Most churches probably need volunteers to call or check in on those without family during this time of restrictions.
2020 has proven that the vast majority of us have not followed through with the vague promise we made, “If I only had more free time, I would do more for others.” Is it time for you to set your remote control and excuses aside and give sacrificially, going beyond your pocketbook?
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From November 2020 forward, all Bible verses attributed to the NASB version unless otherwise indicated. Prior to this date, ESV was the common attribution.
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Until Next Week,
©2020 Katherine Walden