THE REWARD OF SACRIFICING
Robert D. Pace
(Illustration) Years ago, an express package was mailed from England to South Africa. Postage was due upon delivery but the recipient wouldn’t pay the fee. For about fourteen years the box remained unclaimed and was used as a footstool in the express office. After the consignee died, the box, along with other unclaimed articles, was auctioned and sold for nearly nothing. When the purchaser opened it he discovered several thousand pounds of sterling English bank notes. Because the original recipient wouldn’t sacrifice a customary delivery fee he forfeited a fortune!
I wonder how often we’ve made a similar mistake? God delivers a blessing, but since it requires a sacrifice on our part, we reject it. And this is His methodology. God packages many of His blessings for us and then asks us to receive them by making a sacrifice. But when we obey we will discover that His blessing is always greater than our sacrifice.
This explains Malachi 3:10 concerning God’s command to tithe. There is first a sacrifice on our part when we give Him ten percent of our income. But next, the Lord steps forward and returns His blessing! Listen again to Malachi’s words: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
(Transition) For the next few minutes I want to examine what the Bible says about our sacrifices and how God rewards them. The first thing I want you to notice is that sacrifices are essential to our Christian Faith. We simply can’t worship without sacrificing.
I. Sacrifices are Essential to the Christian Faith
It doesn’t matter how far back you go in the Old Testament or far forward you go into the New Testament, those that “worship God in spirit and in truth” make sacrifices. Sacrifices are so essential to Christianity that there is no Christian Faith without sacrifices.
Let me show you something in Deuteronomy 16. This is where Moses delineated Israel’s three major festivals that convened every year—The Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. There is something interesting that each of these festivals had in common. Listen to Deuteronomy 16:16-17.
“Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: (17) each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.”
The one common requirement at these feasts was that nobody could worship without a sacrifice. And even though we live in the Age of Grace Christians cannot worship God without a sacrifice. When we assemble to worship we should come to sacrifice praise, prayer, time, and even our resources. This is how we honor God. And it not only honors God, it blesses us. You don’t lose anything when you sacrifice to God; it is just the opposite—you gain!
• The key to receiving is giving.
• The key to ruling is serving.
• The key to promotion is humility.
• The key to experiencing God’s glory is dying—daily!
In other words, the key to reward is putting God first. That is why God made sacrifices essential to the Christian Faith—He wants to bless you. And when you examine yourself, you know your heart is never at peace until you obey God according to His terms. Sacrificial living releases the peace of God into our lives.
(Transition) Christians cannot escape the call to sacrificial living—it’s intrinsic to the faith. Since that’s so, we need to understand how our sacrifices affect God.
II. Man’s Sacrifices Affect God
How do you think God feels about your sacrifices? Do you think they touch His heart? Do you think He’s moved or affected by them?
(Illustration) The story is told of a dying girl whose only hope was to receive blood from someone that had recovered from a disease like hers. When the physician found the family he explained the situation and knelt by the girl’s little brother. He said, “Son, you recovered from this disease several years ago and now your sister needs your kind of blood to make her well. Would you be willing to give your blood so she can live”? The family stood quietly around the little boy waiting for his answer. After a few moments of thought, he swallowed past the lump in his throat and said he would give his blood. The nurses placed the boy on a bed and began taking blood from his arm. For some time he said nothing, just lying quietly and watching the blood flow from his body. Finally, he looked up at his parents and asked: “Well, when do I die?” That’s when the family realized the extent of the boy’s sacrifice. He was willing to die so his sister could live.
God is moved when we sacrifice our tithes and offerings to Him. He is touched when He knows that our finances are tight and we have bills to pay, yet we take our paycheck and honor His request to tithe. And one way He is “moved” is by opening the windows of heaven and pouring out blessings.
(Transition) Let me take this a step further and show you from Scripture how our sacrifices touch God. Do you remember the sacrifice Noah made immediately after the Flood? Noah’s first earthly activity after the Flood was to offer God a tremendous sacrifice. Listen to Genesis 8:20-21.
Noah’s Sacrifice (Genesis 8:20-22)
“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (21) The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. (22) “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
Think about the risk of Noah’s sacrifice: Once the floodwaters subsided, Noah took some of “all the clean animals . . . and clean birds” that remained alive and sacrificed them to God. Was it wise for Noah to make this sacrifice? Was it prudent to gather some of the last creatures that could repopulate the earth and sacrifice them to God? Under any other circumstance, No! But Noah’s sacrifice wasn’t based on wisdom or prudence. It was based on obedience! Notice God’s response to Noah’s sacrifice:
God promised to never again curse the ground.
He promised to never destroy the earth with a flood.
He promised to never destroy all the creatures of the earth.
And He promised to never eliminate the seasons of “summer and winter” and harvesting. (So much for global warming!)
Noah’s sacrifice was an amazing act of faith! He believed God could take whatever creatures remained after his sacrifice and repopulate the animal kingdom throughout the earth. And it wasn’t just a faith-filled sacrifice; you can see that it was a qualitative sacrifice; it was the very best Noah could give. That’s why it was a “pleasing aroma” to God and it’s why it touched His heart and moved His hand.
(Transition) Your best, faith-filled sacrifices of tithing, praying, giving, serving, and sharing are a “sweet aroma” to God that also touch His heart and move His hand.
Sacrifices Cost the Giver
(Illustration) Awhile back I read a story about a brother and sister that played ‘Noah’s Ark’ in their backyard pool. They used a shoebox for the Ark and after the Flood they wanted to make a sacrifice like Noah. The boy wanted to offer up his sister’s doll, but she refused. The girl wanted to sacrifice her brother’s G.I. Joe, but he wouldn’t do that. So they compromised. They found a filthy, mangled, one-eyed stuffed sheep. One of them was overheard saying, “Here let’s sacrifice this. We don’t want it anyway.”
Do you know what an acceptable sacrifice is? It’s something to which we attach value. A sacrifice isn’t something we have no use for, and thus we offer it to God. That’s called, ‘taking out the trash.’ God doesn’t operate a thrift store where we can dump our junk and then expect a reward from him. He rewards us when we surrender what is precious.
God showed us how much He loved us by sacrificing His only begotten Son on the Cross, and that alone should teach us how to give to Him. We give what is valuable to us.
Let me mention three people who knew how to give to God.
Look at Abraham. God required him to leave the verdant land of Mesopotamia, and forsake family and friends. And he did. Then, after Abraham left his homeland and family, he and Sarah had a son in their old age—Isaac. But that’s when God asked Abraham to place Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. And without hesitation Abraham went to the mountain, built an altar, tied up his son, drew back his knife . . . until an angel of God commanded him to stop. And look how God rewarded Abraham’s sacrifices. He is known as “the Father of the entire Christian Faith.” And when OT saints died they went to Paradise, which was also known as “Abraham’s Bosom.” From Abraham’s death to Christ’s resurrection, Abraham governed Paradise. The Lord knows how to reward sacrifice.
Consider Moses. Moses was raised in the luxuries of Pharaoh’s palace. But when he ‘came of age’ Moses renounced kinship with Pharaoh and chose to suffer with Israel. Think about it: Egypt’s wealth and eventually the throne could have been his, but he rejected them. And when he severed his association with Pharaoh it led him “face to face with God whom he talked with as a man talks with his friend.” Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible and gave us the Ten Commandments. He worked more miracles than anyone except Jesus. God rewarded Moses’ sacrifice.
And then, look at David’s sacrifice. When Solomon’s Temple was built, one scholar estimated that David contributed over three billion dollars for its construction. I’ve heard of some tremendously wealthy Christians, one amassed sixteen billion dollars through his enterprises, but I’m not aware of anyone contributing three billion dollars to God’s work. No wonder God said David was “after His heart.” No wonder the book of Ezekiel says God will seat David at Christ’s right hand to help govern the nations during Christ’s Millennial Reign.
Our sacrifices touch God’s heart and move His hand. You can be assured that God has never ignored one tithe check or one sacrifice you have made for His cause—not one!
(Transition) So if sacrifices are essential to the Christian Faith and God rewards our sacrifices, how does God reward them? Let’s examine that from God’s Word.
III. How God Rewards Sacrifice
One of the more recognized Scriptures for this is Luke 6:38 where Jesus said: “Give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will men give unto your bosom.”
This is where we get four-fold blessing to our giving. Listen again and you’ll hear it: “Give and it shall be given unto you,” one, “good measure”; two, “pressed down”; three, “shaken together”; and four, “running over.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:1: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, act according to the orders I issued to the churches of Galatia. (2) Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” While this Scripture commands giving; 2 Corinthians 9, shows us how God rewards our giving.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
(Law of the Harvest) That passage of Scripture helps us understand the Law of the Harvest. And the Law of the Harvest is simple: only what is sown is reaped, and all reaping is in proportion to sowing. Let me explain that:
When you sow corn seed it produces stalks of corn, not wheat. Each seed produces after its own kind.
And secondly, if you sow one seed of corn you won’t reap an acre of corn; you’ll only reap one stalk. We reap in proportion to our sowing.
This is the Law of the Harvest—sow little, reap little; sow much, reap much. You reap in proportion to your giving.
(Illustration) When I began my evangelistic ministry I needed to purchase recording and duplicating equipment for my sermons. So I began giving a sacrificial amount of money each week to my home church. After a season of giving a businessman approached me and offered to purchase all the recording and duplicating equipment I needed for the ministry. I discovered early on that God rewards sacrifices.
(Illustration) You might ask, “Pastor, did you plant seed before you came to pastor this church?” Yes, I did. Before accepting this appointment I prayed for a very special assignment. I didn’t want to simply ‘fill a pulpit.’ So the seed I planted was to launch a website that offered free of charge sermons, Bible teachings, and devotionals. That was the beginning of PulpitToday.com, which has had over 5,000,000 hits. I prayed, “Lord, I’m going to pay the cost of providing this study material for others to use, and I ask that you will accept this as my “sowing” for receiving a divine appointment. I planted several thousand dollars into this website before coming here as your pastor. Yes, that was quite a sacrifice, but my vision was such that I couldn’t help but do it. God honors sacrifice!
Do you realize there isn’t one area of our lives that should be left un-surrendered to God? When we keep just one area un-surrendered—regardless of what it is; whether it’s our time, a section of our heart, a habit, or our resources—it reveals that we are not ready to receive God’s blessing in that particular area. Fully surrender yourself to God. You will be surprised at His reward!