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 and other unclaimed packages were auctioned and sold for nearly nothing. When the purchaser opened it he discovered several thousand pounds of sterling English bank notes!Because its recipient wouldn’t sacrifice a nominal delivery fee, he forfeited a fortune!
I wonder how often we make this mistake, too? God delivers a blessing, but since it requires a sacrifice we reject it. While all along, God’s intention is to leave a blessing far richer than our sacrifice! This principle is presented throughout the Bible.
This explains Malachi 3:10 concerning God’s command to tithe: There is first a sacrifice on our part by giving him ten percent of our income. Then, over time, the Lord steps forward with his blessing! But it’s all contingent on trusting God once we take a step of faith to sacrifice for him. And as I mentioned, God’s blessing is always greater than our sacrifice!
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. My first point is this: Sacrifices are Essential to the Christian Faith.
I. Sacrifices are Essential to the Christian Faith
Whether it’s the Old Testament Law of Moses or New Testament Christianity, God cannot be properly worshiped without sacrificing! Sacrifices are so essential to Christianity that there is no Christian Faith without them.
In fact, let’s investigate what Moses said in Deuteronomy 16. This is where he delineated Israel’s three major festivals that convened annually: The Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Moses is about to mention something that each festival 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 of these festivals concerned a sacrifice! Each worshiper was required to bring a sacrifice.
But what about today—the Age of Grace? Does this apply? Yes, Christian Worship requires a sacrifice! When we assemble to worship we should come to offer a “sacrifice of praise” (Heb. 13:15), a season of prayer, our time, and our offerings (1 Cor. 16:2). These are ways we worship God through sacrificing. And it not only honors God, it blesses us! We don’t lose anything by sacrificing as God calls us to sacrifice. In fact, the opposite occurs. We 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!
I want you to consider something about the Christian Life. When you please God by expending yourself in sacrificial ways, you will experience the peace of God filling your heart and the joy of the Lord flooding your soul! It’s simply how it works! And
(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 picture your obedience to sacrifice for God touches his heart? Is he impacted in any way?
(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. In his little mind, he was willing to die so his sister could live! And, oh, how this touched the hearts of his parents!
Don’t you think our everlasting God of mercy and compassion is moved when we make sacrifices for his glory?
His heart is moved when he sees our financial duress, and yet we honor him with our tithe.
He is moved when he sees us contributing to the welfare of orphans, or clothing the poor, or feeding the hungry.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pledged his blessing upon the charitable when he said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Mat 5:7) [ESV].
(Transition) I want to illustrate how the sacrificial touch God’s heart from the book of Genesis.
Noah’s Sacrifice (Genesis 8:20–22)
Do you recall Noah’s first act of worship after the Flood? It’s recorded in Genesis 8:20–21, and it shows Noah offering God an overwhelming sacrifice. Let’s read:
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.
Take a moment to consider the risk of Noah’s sacrifice! Once the floodwaters subsided, Noah took some of “all the clean animals . . . and clean birds” and sacrificed them to God. Was this 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 ordinary circumstances, No! But Noah’s sacrifice wasn’t based on wisdom or prudence. It was based on obedience toward God. 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; it was a qualitative sacrifice. This was the very best Noah could give! That’s why the Bible marked it as a “pleasing aroma” to God. It touched his heart wondrously.
Saints of God, your best, faith-filled sacrifices of tithing, praying, giving, serving, and sharing are a “sweet aroma” to God, too! Just as Noah’s sacrifices touched God’s heart and moved his hand, your’s will too. You can count on it!
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 that contains 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 demonstrated the ultimate sacrifice of eternity when he surrendered his only begotten Son unto death on the Cross. Nothing will ever surpass that!
(Transition) I want to mention three people who knew how sacrifice:
1. Let’s first 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.
2. Second, let’s 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.
3. And third, look at David’s sacrifice. When Solomon built the Temple, one scholar estimated that David contributed over three billion dollars for its construction. I’ve heard of some tremendously wealthy Christians, one amassed 100-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.” And it’s no wonder that Ezekiel wrote how God will seat David at Christ’s right hand to help govern the nations during Christ’s Millennial Reign.
Oh yes, our sacrifices touch God’s heart and move his hand! You can be assured that God has never overlooked one tithe check or one sacrifice you have made—not one!
(Transition) So if sacrifices are essential to the Christian Faith and God rewards our sacrifices, then how does he reward them? Let’s examine that from Scripture.
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 verse is the golden text of Christ’s “Four-fold Blessing” upon 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 that is reaped is in proportion to what was sown. 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.
So, the Law of the Harvest is this: Sow little, reap little; sow much, reap much. You reap in proportion to your sowing.
(Illustration) When I began my evangelistic ministry, I needed media equipment to propagate my sermons and teachings. 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 media equipment I needed for the ministry. Thus, I discovered early on that God rewards my 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.’ I wanted a divine ministry appointment. 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.org, 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 ministry appointment. I planted several thousand dollars into this website before coming here as your pastor. Yes, that was quite a sacrifice! But I wanted my sacrifice to match my vision. And praise God for what he’s done for me!
Are you ready to live the victorious life that comes through sacrificing to God? When you take your hopes, dreams, and visions—all disguised as seeds of sacrifice—and bury them into the soil of God’s garden, you’ll be certain to reap a grand resurrection—all to the glory of God! This is the life of the faith-filled Believer.