I love my wife. I am not always very good at expressing this. Sometimes the love of self wins out. Sometimes I don’t want to do chores, to think about someone else before me. In those times I have a choice to make – do I prove my love for Anna through actions, or do I show my love for myself. Do I sacrifice for Anna or do I please myself?
What’s all this? I’m suddenly talking about sacrifice again? Haven’t I spent the last few weeks talking about mercy not sacrifice? Well yes. I have. But here’s the interesting thing – sacrifice is not off the table. Not entirely anyway. I looked up the references to sacrifice in the New Testament and I found that the only time sacrifice is mentioned in terms of atonement, it is talking about Jesus. The only time sacrifice is mentioned regarding us is as gratitude.
This brings us to an interesting truth. As we walk in mercy with Jesus as our guide we may come to the point where we want to sacrifice to Him out of gratitude for all He has done for us. We read of the unmerciful servant last week, what if this servant had been the grateful servant? What if instead of demanding what he was owed he had shouted from the roof tops about the kings goodness? What if he had made sacrifices to show the king that he appreciated what had been done for Him?
The only way we can keep sacrifice from becoming selfish is for it to be born our gratitude for all Christ has done for us, recognising that this does not in anyway equal what He has done! Everything we have looked at in this series can summed up by Hebrews 10. Thank God for His great sacrifice! May we learn to walk in mercy and sacrifice gratefully!
Hebrews 10:1-18 – ‘The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ:
You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year; you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice. It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar that whet your appetite. So I said, “I’m here to do it your way, O God, the way it’s described in your Book.”
When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—God’s way—by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. The Holy Spirit confirms this:
This new plan I’m making with Israel isn’t going to be written on paper, isn’t going to be chiseled in stone; This time “I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts.” He concludes, I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins. Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.’