Sacrifice has always been a principle found throughout the scriptures, but how do we know when to give up on something good for something that is better? Trading something you really wanted to do for something that has to be done isn’t always easy, but we all make sacrifice in our lives; it’s an essential part of making sure we meet our needs, take care of our responsibilities, and reach our long term goals.
According to the Guide to the Scriptures, “In ancient days, sacrifice meant to make something or someone holy. It has now come to mean to give up or suffer the loss of worldly things for the Lord and his kingdom.” The world often views sacrifice in a negative way, saying that we should do what we want anyway, and not worry about the future, or compromise on anything we want. Too often we learn the hard way that without proper priories, and a willingness to sacrifice what we could have today in favor of what we truly want, we’ll never be able to achieve our true potential.
The law of sacrifice was first given to Adam and Eve, as they were commanded to offer the firstlings of their flocks as an offering to the Lord.Moses 5:5 They taught there off spring as well to do the same as noted by Abel providing such a sacrifice in Genesis4:4. Noah is also noted as making animal sacrifices on Genesis 8:20, and Abraham in Genesis 22. Finally in Exodus 20:24 we learn that during the time of Moses and under Mosaic Law, burnt offerings were still a commandment but with many additional laws surrounding it.also see Leviticus 1:3-4, 8:15, 16:18,21, and 17:11 for more details
The Bible Dictionary states that this type of sacrifice was done as a “similitude . . . made of the Only Begotten Son of God.” That “whenever there were true believers on the earth, with priesthood authority, sacrifices were offered in that manner and for that purpose” until after “the death of Jesus Christ, which ended the shedding of blood as a gospel ordinance. It is now replaced in the Church by the sacrament of the bread and the water, in remembrance of the offering of Jesus Christ.”
Other scriptures and modern day revelation gives us incite into the type of sacrifice required of us today:
- sacrifices of God are a broken spirit … contrite heart: Ps. 51:17
- The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalms 34:18
- Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Doctrine and Covenants 59:8
- with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15
Tithing is another principle of giving to the lord that is seen through the scriptures. It first appears with Abram (Abraham) giving tithes to Melchizedek. see Genesis 14:20 and Alma 13:15 The Israelites were latter admonished for failing to pay tithing in Malachi 3:8, saying, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” also see 3 Nephi 24:8 Modern day revelation further clarifies the meaning and expectation of giving tithes:
- he that is tithed shall not be burned at [Christ’s] coming D&C 64:23
- he may tithe his people, to prepare them against the day of vengeance and burning, should have their names enrolled with the people of God D&C 85:3
- a house should be built unto me . . . by the tithing of my people D&C 97:10-11
- those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually D&C 119:4
We are also asked to give in other ways, through service, fast-offering, missionary work, etc. Joseph Smith also taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” Essentially we must be self-less in our endeavors, and willing to give all to the Lord if he asks it of us.
In the April 2008 General Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard asked, “Do we come home from work and take an active role with our family, [or] put work, friends, or sports ahead of listening to, playing with, and teaching your children.” We could also ask ourselves:
- Do we give an honest tithe?
- Are we generous with our fast offering?
- Do we spend our extra money on a new car, or growing our food storage?
- Do we give service when asked, or focus more on our own activities?
- Do you find joy in serving in the church, or find any excuse to avoid it?