What Does The Bible Say About Sacrifice

Sacrifice is the act of willing giving up of something we cherish and hold dear. And while sacrifice doesn’t always come easy, it can have great rewards and can even lead to changed lives. So, what does the Bible say about sacrificing?

Towards the start of the Bible, God calls on Abraham to sacrifice his son to prove his faith. Though Abraham does not end up going through with it, we can glimpse God’s plan for our own sacrifice in this story— ultimately, God calls us to give up what we love most to sustain our own lives and the lives of those around us.

We also see in the biblical stories of the Levites that they made sacrifices in exchange for God’s blessings. This exchange of something beloved for something greater is a theme we continue to find throughout the Bible.

God himself sacrificed the very best he had—his son, Jesus Christ—for the cleansing of all our sins. As we learn in John 3:16, this was the “supreme act of love,” and it is what sets the example for our own sacrifices today.

God seems to have a special place in his heart for those who willingly sacrifice, and He bestows joy and peace upon them. In his book, Sacrifice: The Secret of Joyful Living, John Piper explains, “Sacrifice is joy, because sacrifice brings spiritual, eternal purposes near.” No matter how hard it may be, God calls us to take up our own sacrifices in order to reap the benefits.

In the Bible, we find multiple examples of personal sacrifice. In 2 Corinthians 12:15, we are reminded to, “Glorify God to his benefit rather than for your own.” Likewise, it says in Isaiah 53:7 nothing that, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Personal sacrifice, whether big or small, is what God requires of us as his faithful servants and these Biblical examples should remind us of our calling.

Sacrificing Time

Sacrificing time is one of the best ways we can demonstrate our faith and commitment to God. Because of our busy lives, we are sometimes tempted to prioritize other things over spending time with the Lord. But when we choose to clear out some of that clutter and worship God instead, it helps keep us grounded and closer to Him.

The Bible is filled with stories of people who made the most of the moments that THEY had with God. Jesus himself often withdrew from his crowds just to spend time in prayer, and Jesus’ patience, grace and love for others always inspired those around him through his commitment to being with God.

The same way that Jesus made it a priority to spend time with God, we, too, should seek to sacrifice our time in order to truly know who God is and to encounter Him in a personal way. Doing so will bring more lasting joy than all the worldly pleasures we could ever experience.

Sacrificing Things of Value

We also see in Scripture that sacrifice doesn’t have to be limited to our time. The Bible frequently calls on us to give up material possessions as a sacrifice to the Lord. One example is when Jesus stood at the temple and overturned the tables of those who were actively exploiting worshipers for financial gain.

In the same way, God asks us to forgo things of value in order to bring Him glory. Whether it is a certain percentage of our income, a beloved item, or even something as small as a hobby or activity, sacrificing something of value can actually lead to rich spiritual rewards.

Famously, we can look to the accounts of the first disciples in Acts 2:45 as a reminder that when our hearts belong to God, we should be responsive to His call. Immediately after hearing the teachings of Jesus, they sold their possessions and shared their belongings in order to show their dedication and commitment to their Savior.

Sacrificing Goals

Sometimes, the Lord will call on us to sacrifice our own ambitions and plans in order to serve Him. Faith without action is dead (James 2:17), and so we are expected to make an effort to use our God-given talents to make an impact in His kingdom.

One biblical example of this can be found in Numbers 11, when Moses was forced to give up his dream of crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Despise his frustration, obedience to God’s command was Moses’ higher calling and although he was not able to cross over into it himself, he became instrumental in having the whole nation of Israel do so.

This story of Moses serves as an example to all of us—sometimes, in order to make a lasting difference in God’s kingdom, we have to give up the plans and goals of this life in exchange. We can have the peace of mind that by shying away from the comforts and advantages of the world, we can become even more important figures in God’s story because of our faithful obedience.

Sacrificing Relationships

Sacrifice can often be as simple as forgoing a relationship or friendship in order to remain obedient to our Savior. Jesus himself had to walk away from those He held dear in order to carry out His Heavenly Father’s instructions (Acts 4:13).

The Bible talks about friendship and relationships in many places. One notable passage is Matthew 19:29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will possess eternal life.” Here, Jesus is reminding us that any relationships we have in this lifetime are mere temporary. They can’t compare to the gifts and rewards of a relationship with Him.

We live in a broken world filled with temptations and obstacles, and it may be hard to walk away from people and situations that are not in line with our faith. But when this becomes necessary, it’s important to remember our reason is that we are sacrificing for God. This may be difficult, but we can be assured that in God’s eyes, our sacrifices will be remembered.

Sacrificing Comfort

Finally, it is important to sacrifice our comfort when the Lord asks us to do so. 2 Corinthians 4:17 is especially poignant on this matter: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” This verse is a reminder that for true transformation to occur, we need to be willing to give up our comfortable lifestyle, abandon our predictable life paths, and commit ourselves to the unknown.

This is seen in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, in which a master gives his slaves five and two talents of gold, each depending on their abilities. He tells them to make wise investments but the fearful slave buries his talent in fear of his master’s disapproval. Ironically, this is the same slave who is ultimately punished the most because the master wants those who are willing to step out of what they know and push their own boundaries to make something greater.

In today’s world we may find it hard to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, but it is essential for our spiritual growth. By sacrificing something as simple as a daily routine or a luxurious item, we are allowing ourselves to experience true transformation.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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