(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
Real Sacrifices are Costly
9th September 2008
This story comes from 2 Samuel 24. In verses 1-9, we read that David had sinned against the Lord by counting the fighting men available to him. Iím not sure why this was a sin, although many commentators suggest various reasons. The point is: it was a sin. We read onÖ
Here we see the heart of the man of God. David wasnít perfect. Just like you and me, he sinned sometimes. And this was by no means the first time. But when David realised that he had sinned, he was conscience-stricken. He was truly grieved by what he had done. He confessed his sin to the Lord and begged Him for forgiveness.
As Christians, we can fall in to the trap of not taking our sins very seriously. Paul quoted some people who had made this error in Romans 6v15:
ďShall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?Ē
Because Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, some imagine that it doesnít matter very much if we carry on sinning; after all, weíll be forgiven again, wonít we? But itís impossible to genuinely love God and at the same time be indifferent to our own sin! As Jesus said on John 14v15:
"If you love me, you will obey what I commandĒ.
God saw that Davidís repentance was real, and answered his prayer:
God, in His mercy, sent His answer to David through the prophet Gad. And Gad obeyed God. It takes courage to prophesy to a king:
Itís true that God forgives our sin as a free gift. But itís also true that God sometimes requires us to do something about our sin. And, although our sin is forgiven, we are sometimes required to suffer punishment as discipline (see Hebrews 12v7-11).
Wisely, David responded by saying that itís better to be chastised by God than abused by men. God is always merciful to His people, but sometimes men are not.
But Godís mercy doesnít mean we donít need chastisement.
And it wasnít only David who suffered; it was everybody whom he was responsible for. Pray for husbands, fathers, elders, kings, politicians and employers. When those in authority sin, we all suffer.
God doesnít enjoy disciplining His people; He does it for our good, not for His pleasure. And in His mercy, he disciplines us less than we deserve.
David took responsibility Ė as those in authority should. And as we all should. David asked God to punish him alone. This was a brave decision but it was the right thing to do.
God had mercy on David. God decided to allow David to offer a sacrifice Ė a demonstration of worship and submission - for his sin. David gladly accepted Godís decision. He knew what he deserved Ė the wages of sin is death. And he knew he was getting off lightly:
Araunah, of course, also wanted the plague to stop. He welcomed King David, and offered to pay for the sacrifice himself. Hear Davidís reply:
When God calls us to make any kind of sacrifice to Him, itís supposed to be a sacrifice! Itís supposed to cost us something!
And so on.
If we only do what we feel like doing, then weíre doing it for us. But our whole lives should be ďliving sacrificesĒ (Romans 12v1). We should do what God wants, not what we feel like. Or are we no longer grateful for His redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross? Are we prepared to disregard our Saviourís wishes?
Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I commandĒ.
Through this act of worship and submission Ė an act that was costly to the one who did it Ė all the people were blessed.
And when you and I live Godís way Ė putting Him first Ė then we and our families, and our churches, and our nations, will be blessed, too.