Perhaps you’ve dismissed the old saying, “Give ‘til it hurts” as simply a motivational technique used by money-grubbing preachers to get bigger offerings. But don’t miss the point: a sacrifice to the Lord your God that costs you nothing is no sacrifice. Now understand that it’s not the amount that counts, it’s the heart from which the gift comes that makes it acceptable before God. When the Lord calls you to sacrifice, be ready to give until it hurts—which will actually feel pretty good!
Going Deep // Focus: 2 Samuel 24:21-24
David said to Araunah, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.” Araunah replied, “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.” But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.
There is nothing wrong with looking for the best deal. Sniffing out good discounts is not only an American pastime, it just may very well be a matter of good stewardship. I would argue that being diligent with the financial blessings God has entrusted to us by going after the finest quality goods at the most affordable price is proper. But when it comes to that which we are called to sacrifice unto the Lord, it is to be just that—a sacrifice!
I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.
If what we give to God cost us nothing; if we have cut corners or gone on the cheap or have manipulated a discount; if we give second hand or second best when we could have done better, then it is not a sacrifice. God deserves our best.
Now understand that our best is not to be compared to someone else’s best—it is simply that which for us is of the highest quality and the deepest devotion and the greatest love.
King David illustrates this kind of costly sacrifice here as we close the book on 2 Samuel. This story was important enough that the Holy Spirit inspired the human author to include it in this inspired account of David, thus leading us to conclude that it represents a principle of giving God expects us to observe.
The context of this story is David’s refusal to accept a plot of land for free—land that the prophet Gad had instructed the king to secure upon which he was to build an altar. The altar was for a sacrifice to absolve David of his guilt in wrongly ordering a census of Israel’s fighting men. That sacrifice would stop the plague that God has visited upon the nation as a result of the king’s prideful and disobedient act. The sacrifice David wanted to make was of the most serious nature—there were 70,000 fresh Israelite graves to prove it. God himself had ordered the altar be built to accommodate that sacrifice—so this was a matter of utmost importance. In a real sense, this was a time for David to give until it hurt.
After Gad’s instruction, David went to Araunah, who owned the land where the angel of the Lord had stayed his execution of the Israelites, and this was the very spot where the sacrifice was to take place. Araunah responded to David’s request to buy the land by offering it for free—along with the sacrificial elements—all in the name of the Lord. But David refused this generous offer, insisting on paying full price for both the land and the animals to be sacrificed.
In refusing to accept the land for free or at a discount, David established an enduring and God-honoring principle for sacrifice: “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God offerings that cost me nothing.” God always asks for our best—and he deserves nothing less!
So how are you doing in the sacrifice department? Does that which you offer God cost you your best—that which represents your highest quality and the deepest devotion and the greatest love? If not, now is the time to start a new pattern of giving. If it does, keep it up!