A World Without Sacrifice?
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Has modern technology removed the need for sacrifice? Now everyone can have their own way. When I was growing up back in the  20th century, my family had one black and white TV. On Monday nights, at our house we had to make compromises.

Jim and his wife Plessie, who knew you can’t have paradise without sacrifice.

My dad and me missed the first hour of Monday Night Football so that my mom and sister could watch Little House on the Prairie. Now everyone can record their favorite show while watching another one, or just go watch the TV in their bedroom, so that there is no need for compromise, much less actual sacrifice.

When we went out to eat, someone had to choose where to go. Sometimes we wanted pizza, sometimes Mexican. Well, I always wanted Mexican, but that did not mean I always got it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. That is until food courts arrived at the malls. Now everyone can eat at the same food court but still choose their own genre of food, while their friends choose theirs. No one has to compromise or sacrifice. Oh, and I almost forgot about waiting for my sister to get off the phone so I could call my friends! We only had, <gasp!> one phone line. We also had one bathroom for the whole family! Even so, in the thirteen years we lived in that house, I only remember twice having to run to the McDonald’s restroom four blocks away.  One of those times was a Thanksgiving with the house filled with guests.

Today we have our own cell phones. No one has to share. We have multiple bathrooms in our homes so no one has to wait. We have multiple restaurants to choose from at the food court so that everyone gets their own way. We have several TV’s in the home with recording devices so that no one has to compromise, and so that there will never again be an adolescent boy who has never seen a kickoff on Monday night.

So does this make the world a better place? A world without sacrifice? A world where your friends get what they want, but you always get what you want too? It may sound like Utopia. But wait a minute – we are talking about a world without love. That’s right. Love is the principle of putting others first. The law of love tells us in the first four commandments how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put others first. This is what love is, and if we don’t have to put anyone else first, then that means we don’t have to love. What kind of a world is that?

Think about this: Jesus in Gethsemane asks His Father if there was another way to save the world besides the awful sacrifice He was facing.

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 NLT

Now you would think, if mankind has come up with enough technology so that we don’t have to compromise, share or put others first, much less have to sacrifice, that heaven could have come up with a better solution, than for God Himself to have to make a sacrifice! Yet heaven, with all of its infinite wisdom and resources only found one way to save the world. Sacrifice. Even the sacrifice of God’s own son!

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:32 NLT

While we dream of a world without sacrifice, we had better remember that a world without sacrifice would be a world without love. Heaven was filled with love, and heaven itself could provide no other solution for mankind other than sacrifice. Heaven is a place where people have to share, compromise, put others first and at times sacrifice. That is what makes it heaven! That is what makes it a world of love!

For our world to be a world of love, it must include sacrifices. It must include putting others first instead of making sure everyone gets exactly what they want when they want it. God has given us the Sabbath as a systematic way to put God and others first with our time. God has also given us the tithe and offering system so that we can systematically put God and others first with our possessions. Without a systematic way to always put others first, our world would have no way of exercising love.

Even in today’s hi-tech society, the need for sacrifice has not been totally removed. A few years ago, a friend of mine received a kidney from his wife so that he could live. Now here is a way technology has created a way that we can sacrifice to save others! What a beautiful love story: Is there a more beautiful way to say you love someone than to give an organ that you may need later to save your own life? My friend Plessie, gave her kidney and maybe even later her own life to save her husband Jim.

I love the world I live in, not because it is filled with cell phones, DVR’s and a multiple selection of restaurants. Having more than one phone in the house or multiple restrooms in the house does not make this world paradise to me. It’s people like Plessie who make this world worth living in! It’s people like Plessie, who are not afraid of the word “sacrifice,” that make my world paradise on earth!

All the modern technology can’t make this world a paradise or heaven on earth. It can only make us self-centered, which is what caused Lucifer to fall from paradise. I can still remember seeing Jim and Plessie lying in their hospital beds after the transplant. I see the smile on Plessie’s face, satisfied that her sacrifice has saved her husband’s life, and that is when I see heaven on earth.

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A World Without Sacrifice? — 23 Comments

  1. [Comment edited for clarity]

    Our world also has sacrifies. There is ongoing slaughter of men. Rich states kill peoples in poor states.
    In Israel Tent was in middle of Camp. And throughout daily sacrificing, economy of old Isralel was going. There was order. People eat meat from sacrifice. Some say priests got a better parts of meat.

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    • Goran, in the English language and the way William uses the word, to "sacrifice" something means to give up something we value for the benefit of someone else.

      Killing someone else is not "sacrifice," but dying so that someone else might live, that is sacrifice.

      Like(7)
        • It does, indeed, but I assume that comments made under a post refer to that post, as they should. ;)

          But the biblical meaning never applies to killing anyone. In fact, even killing animals is not sacrifice. Only devoting to God something of value to yourself can be sacrifice in the biblical sense, and it is only a true sacrifice if the giver's heart goes with it.

          Like(2)
        • Goran, I find that helping our Brothers and Sisters, who are less fortunate is a combination of Sacrifice, and Love. "If you do for the less fortunate, you have done it unto ME."

          Like(0)
  2. Thank you so much for this article. I could not think of a better way to start off my day than with the Sabbath school lesson and your article; it brings back memories of my childhood when we had to share a bed with our siblings, one piece of bread etc. I have all the bread I need and more than one bed, but in reflecting I was more content then in that small village. Oh how I wish some times I could go back where we all knew or neighbors. Again, thanks!

    Like(14)
  3. Is there any amount of teaching that can make human beings kind and loving? I have seen so much cruelty against people by people that I sometimes think that it's time for God to come and end all this. I fear for children who are innocent and looking at the world with hope. To think that they do not know that they will go through the same rhythm of pain and disappointment that everyone goes through makes me wonders whether it was worth it. I think one thing we learned from Jesus is that life is about pain and then seeking God becomes happiness.

    Like(3)
  4. So what is the purpose of sacrifice?
    Or is it noble simply because it is austere (and we have a sense that that is what religious things are supposed to be--the more austere, the holier)?

    I was thinking that this is crucial to understand because we can easily veer into a religion of pilgrimages, rituals and fasts (to whatever degree). Humans excel at this.

    Furthermore, what place does sacrifice (on our part) have in the framework of salvation as a gift?

    So I really would like to understand this concept in a larger, logical context.

    Is sacrifice just doing something extreme to put others first and thus demonstrate love?
    Is it a way to help us love (be less self-centred)?
    Is it a demonstration of piety to God?
    Does it have other aims in the salvation of man?

    Or am I mixing up my concepts?:

    1. To sacrifice "to"
    2. To sacrifice "for"
    I just thought I would post some of my thoughts.

    Like(6)
    • [Moderator note: please use first and last names when commenting on this site. Thanks!]

      Very interesting questions Andrew.

      I will not attempt to be able to answer any of them, but it's good to know that someone else has been asking some of the questions I have.

      I believe sometimes we even confuse sacrifice for martyrdom. God wants us to be happy; He wants us to always put others first (I guess that's sacrifice since we're intrinsically selfish). However, logically speaking, I'm not sure that us going out of our way to "martyr" ourselves is sacrifice.

      I don't think sacrifice is a right of passage to the heart of God. It's an act that manifests itself with deliberate effort because we sense a need to.

      What do you think?

      Like(3)
  5. Thank you for your thoughtful question Andrew. A sacrifice can be simply putting others first as in the context of this post. Obviously, missing the first hour of Monday Night Football so my mother and sister could watch Little House on the Prairie was not much of a sacrifice (at least looking back now, but it may have been to me then.) but it was giving up something for someone else. Obviously the sacrifice Plessie made was much greater and my sacrifice does not even deserve to be mentioned in the same post! In heaven thank God we will not be giving up our kidneys (please lets not derail the conversation here to debate if we will need kidneys in heaven or not) but we will be putting others first. However in heaven Jesus did have to choose to sacrifice Himself or not.

    Like(5)
  6. I agree with Hubert. Sacrifice does not have to equal martyrdom. The examples I provided like waiting for someone to get off the phone, or going to a restaurant you may not like just because your friends do, in no way equals martyrdom. We just need to be careful that all the luxuries we enjoy in our high tech society do not encourage us to be selfish and thoughtless of others.

    Like(5)
  7. William,

    This is such an appropriate post for Christians to think about. Thanks for the excellent example of Jim and Plessie and for posting their picture. As couples get older, there are many more sacrifices the wife and husband have to make for each other.
    Your post reminds me of similarities in my growing up time: one black and white TV; one phone; one car; and I shared a bed with a sister and the bedroom with her and two brothers for many years. Dad gave us bikes when we were eight years old and watches when we were ten, so we had to be patient and wait.

    Many things changed when we moved to an affluent suburb and my father made more money. However, my level of caring didn't change. I took care of myself and continued helping in the home. By 11 years old I did the dishes by myself for ten people because I couldn't take all the arguing. I was the only one who liked to help out and did the laundry and many other chores for everyone. But it really wasn't fair and I burned out.
    So when I left home I thought it would be interesting to do what I wanted all the time. Well, it only lasted a short time because I found I wasn't as happy as I was when I gave to others.
    When my son was born, I stopped full-time working when he was not even two years old so I could spend more time with him. When he was ten, I married and quit working so I could devote my time to him and my husband. For two years we had one car and for eight years we made many sacrifices.
    Now when my grandchildren visit, all my time is theirs. I am happiest when I give.
    I do find I have to give a little less so I can take better care of myself. By God's grace I look forward to laying down my crown at Jesus's feet because he deserves it and not me. Everything good I have ever done is because He gave me the ideas and the ability. I thank Him for His sustaining power.

    Like(5)
  8. Thanks for all of the replies.
    I read this post because I was trying to find some way to relate to the topic. The whole temple system is really alien to anything I am remotely familiar with.

    I find myself wondering: How did the average worshipper feel on a regular day at the temple?
    Did everyone carry a lamb daily? After the 1437th trip, did he get numb? Or frustrated with sin?

    The Bible says several times that the burnt offerings were a sweet savor to God. I can only imagine the scent. Is this literal? Is there more we can find?

    Sorry for all these questions.

    Like(2)
    • Hi Andrew,

      I'm sure you realize that William was talking about sacrifice in one particular way - the giving of oneself for the benefit of others, as Christ did.

      There was more to the sanctuary system of offerings, and the lesson mentions some of these. But the one offering that symbolized self-giving, which is the focus of William's post, was the "burnt offering" that was wholly burnt by fire. (See Lev 1:3-17) It symbolized complete consecration to God. It was not offered for sin, per se, but it nevertheless effected atonement. (Before Sinai, all offerings were burnt offerings.) I think this can tell us that when we consecrate ourselves fully to God, He takes care of our sins.

      We can find repeated references in the Bible to the fact that God didn't want sacrifices. He wanted obedience to the Law of Love. (Check out these verses, for instance: 1 Sam 15:22; Ps 40:6-8; Ps 51:16-17; Micah 6:6-8; Jer 7:22-23; Hosea 6:6; Matt 12:7; Mark 12:33)

      The sacrifices were always meant to impress the sinner with the deadly nature of sin and that the Creator would some day come Himself and be the sacrifice.

      I believe that what was "a sweet savor" to God in connection with sacrifices was the contrition of heart that the sacrifices represented. (God was always more interested in the heart than in sacrifices.)

      There were daily offerings at the temple each morning and evening. These were to cover the general sins of the people.

      I'm guessing that individuals brought offerings when the Spirit especially convicted them. (That said, it is certainly not necessary to sin daily.)They could pray for forgiveness of sins just as we can. The personal relationship which the sacrifice of Christ restored was open to persons living in ancient times, just as it is now. That's how Enoch, Abraham and Moses walked with God.

      I believe you're right in recognizing that a multitude of animal offerings would tend to desensitize. This happened in Israel, but it would not have happened if the people had cooperated with God and allowed Him to change them.

      I wonder if it is not possible for us to become desensitized to our own religious rituals. Do we really think of the words of some of the songs we sing? Or do we just sing them unthinkingly? Do we sense the presence of the Holy and Eternal One when we pray? Or do we pray to ourselves as the Pharisees did?

      Even now, God wants of us the sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart -- just as He did back then. (Psalm 51:17)

      Like(3)
      • I am glad for your reply.

        I really wished this week for a chart classifying and outlining the different sacrifices and their purpose. I failed to find one online, but I was hoping to study them further for insight.
        This has been a little confusing over the years, because I have always thought that the burnt offering was for sin and I believed that it was daily.

        Then, too, I could hardly relate to the apparent arbitrariness of it all. Sometimes when reading Leviticus etc. you begin to skim over the details (as some are repetitive and there seems to be little to latch onto).

        I know Mr. Earnhardt had a very specific focus, but I was hoping it would help shed some light on the whole idea.
        In that sense, the week was too short for this topic in my small opinion--and the lesson moved on very fast.

        About the hymns--yes many times it is possible (happens to me) to sing them from memory without even focusing on the words.

        Like(1)
        • Hi Andrew,
          For a fuller understanding of the sacrifical system read the books, Patriachs and Prophets and the Great Controversy. The author, E G White comments on the bible illuminate the whole process of sin and its effect on the relationship between GOD and mankind. The sacrifical process was all about this. Read both books from beginning to end, not just the chapters related to the sacrifical system. That is the only way to fully understand the concept and structure of the sacrifical system in relation to it design and purpose. Likewise reading Leviticus will only tell you of design and structure, but the life of man from Genesis to Revelation will give full understanding of it applications and purpose. Yeah, I know...this is not just readings for a couple of days or months..but as you read of GOD and sin and man, you will truly understand that this existence is all about one thing...GOD LOVE / MAN SIN. The effects on your life will be tremdous my friend...seek life and you will always find GOD.

          Like(1)
      • Inge,
        You are right when you observed that taking care of those in need is like Jesus Christ did for us.
        I think we understand that the gifts of Cain had no value to God without the sacrifice of blood, representing Jesus Christ. When God told Cain "trouble lies as your door", He meant that the substitution of a gift for the blood of Jesus Christ indicated that Cain was still dead in sin, rebellious and controlled by the evil nature. All, all sacrifices of animals were to point to our Savior and Redeemer. That is why God rejected blood sacrifices when the hearts of the people did it as form, not representing Jesus Christ. The same held true when God rejected celebration of feast days and keeping of Sabbath(s). This is part of the message of Isaiah.

        When the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us, and His resurrection gives us new life, then it is seen "in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God.....became a servant.....to death on the cross." (Phil 2: 3-13)

        To God, we do not honor the shed blood of Jesus Christ when we neglect caring of the widow, binding up the wounded, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison, providing food for the hungry (Isa 56-61; Matt 25). Gifts are useless in the Kingdom of God without transformation through the blood of Jesus Christ; but taking care of the needs of others in their affliction is imperative, a requirement for blood bought children of God who are Heaven bound (Matt 25)

        Like(0)
  9. I just want to thank you, William, for sharing the inspiring story of Jim and Plessie. It illustrates the kind of sacrifice God wants of us - the giving of ourselves in love.

    And please thank them for us for allowing you to share their story. Plessie looks very happy - which is exactly how God makes us feel every time we genuinely sacrifice for Him in service to others. He's built it into our very nature - that the giving of ourselves even produces "happy hormones" in our bodies!

    I believe we can experience the truest form of happiness only as we give of ourselves, just as Jesus did. :)

    Like(2)
    • William, I want to thank you for your heart warming story. It reminds me when I was little in the wary 50s. Families were so much closer and caring for each other and put everyone first before them. Now it's a "Dog eat Dog world". Only looking out for number one. As Christians we need to keep the values of love and sacrifices in our lives and families. God Bless.

      Like(0)
  10. Thank you for the reminder of how good life seems to be with the wonderful conveniences that we have in certain parts of the world. I guess that's why James 1:27 is so important to God. "Pure and undefiled religion is to take care of those going through tough times when they are at their lowest and...keep yourself pure". (paraphrased) It will be tough to keep that up if we do not LOVE the 'widows and orphans' in our communities. In fact, the 'fingers of indictment' are pointing to most of us. This kind of sacrifice definitely goes with love, pretty much the same way God, through his Son, Jesus Christ, continues to teach us to love. . .to sacrifice. Thanks again for this reawakening.

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  11. It is indeed a needed reminder. Growing up stuff meant more and had more value when I sacrificed or when someone made a sacrifice for me.The gifts meant a great deal more when I knew my parents had to do some juggling to make sure I had what I wanted .
    I believe that as Christians it is importantant that we do what we can with our limited resources,make the sacrifice to bless someone else.
    This lack of or unwillingness to sacrifice creeps into our christian lives. But we should be mindful that we are stewards of our resources,the same resources given to us by God.Many won't sacrifice their time much less their resources. There is joy in giving to others.There is no sacrifice too great or small. The importance is the heart of sacrifice rather than the measure(amount) of sacrifice.There is no better explanation of this than the example of God sending his Son to die for a world He created and could have easily destroyed. Thank you William for this post.

    Like(1)
    • Dear Lee-Shawn,

      You have worded things better than I. When I was young, everything we owned was bought with hard work. My dad worked six days and went to the store to stoke the coal stove on Sunday and I often went with him.

      I find that people who don't like to give keep more to themselves and they miss some of the joy in life.

      Like(0)

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