The prophet Malachi chastises the returned exiles for their lackluster and disobedient worship. He rebukes the priests for offering polluted food, blemished animals, and ill-gotten offerings. He even intimates that it would be better to just shut the doors of the temple altogether (see Mal. 1:10). How do we know when we’re guilty of the same? Let’s take a look at how this teaching applies to our call to live sacrificially as a part of Christ’s church. This content was adapted from Peter Adam’s volume on Malachi in the Bible Speaks Today commentary.

A Sacrificial Church?

If we put together the different ideas of sacrifices in the New Testament, we can see how easily we might fall into the same trap as the people of God in Malachi’s day, despising God’s name by offering second-rate sacrifices, sacrifices that look good but are merely trivial, that have the appearance of godliness but not its substance, sacrifices that cost us nothing.

How can we know that we might run the danger of despising the sacrifice of Christ? It is because the people of God in Malachi’s day despised their sacrifices, the very sacrifices that pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ.

Offering a satisfactory sacrifice is more than simply being in favor of an idea. To offer a sacrifice is to live intentionally, to do what costs us dearly and to give up something, so that we can offer God the obedience and service that is his due. As King David said, ‘I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing’. Yet the main point of sacrifices is not what they cost us, but whether they please God. We need a God-centered view of our sacrifices.

Is your church a sacrificial church? What does your church give up in order to offer it to God? Is your ministry a sacrificial ministry? What do you give up in order to do your ministry? Is your life a sacrificial life? What does it cost you to live as a Christian? Do you intentionally offer yourself each day to God as a living sacrifice? Do you offer each day as an occasion when you will give God gladly whatever he asks of you? Does your bank account speak of a sacrificial life? Are your prayers sacrificial prayers, or are they self-centered and self-serving?

Answers to Objections Against Sacrificial Living

There are many arguments against sacrificial living. They surround us in our society, and infiltrate our thinking and our actions in our churches. Here are just a few:

Isn’t self-sacrifice psychologically dangerous? Won’t I damage my personality if I deny myself?

No, there is no danger in conscious and intentional self-denial and sacrifice. You will not warp yourself, as long as you intentionally deny yourself, having first counted the cost.

Isn’t there a danger of obsessive self-sacrifice?

Yes, there is a danger, but don’t feel that you have to go to that extreme, and don’t let fear of extreme behaviour stop your basic Christian duty.

Surely Christ’s great sacrifice means that we don’t have to offer sacrifices; and isn’t there a danger of thinking we are saving ourselves by our own sacrifices?

We are saved by Christ’s sacrifice alone, but Christ who saved us by his sacrifice called us to follow him in the sacrifices that we make. As we are ‘saved to serve’, so we are ‘saved to sacrifice’. It is not that we are saved by our sacrifices, but that they are a right response to God by people who have been saved.

If I don’t have outstanding gifts, then there is no real value in my sacrifice.

No, God loves the loving sacrifices of all his children, and uses them for good.

Will self-sacrifice make me happy?

Perhaps that is not the best question to ask. We should be motivated by what God wants, not what we want. And in fact, if you can work through the pain, there can be joy in being set free from self-centeredness. And ultimately God’s glory will be our greatest joy.

Answers to More Objections Against Sacrificial Living

Surely I need to establish myself in a good career and good income stream, and own my own home? Then I plan to make some sacrifices.

Well, you will only make it more difficult for yourself, because you will be accustomed to the higher lifestyle, and may find it almost impossible to change. A good guide is ‘As now, so then’. That is, the kind of Christian life you live now shows you how you will live in the future.

Surely our church should build itself up first, and only then think of those outside, or Christians overseas.

Again, ‘As now, so then’ is a good guide to what will happen. A church which bases itself on selfishness will find it very difficult to change its ways.

Would it be alright to make sacrifices occasionally?

No, for the Lord Jesus told us to take up our cross daily in order to follow him, and Paul challenged us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.

Surely any sacrifice that we make is so unworthy that it insults God?

No, for the imperfections in our sacrifices are covered by the sacrifice of Christ: we are ‘in Christ’ and offer our sacrifices ‘through Christ’. So God our heavenly Father will accept them for Christ sake, and in Christ.

Clear Exposition with the Bible Speaks Today Commentary

You can see from this content that the Bible Speaks Today commentary is geared to helping us apply the Scriptures. Each of the volumes in this series also provides accurate and readable expositions of the text. Follow the link below and add this resource to your Olive Tree Library!

Leave a comment – What objections come to your mind when confronted with the call to sacrifice? How do you overcome those objections through the power of the Holy Spirit?

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