Day 11

Worship Through Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 51:1-19, Luke 7:36-50, Hebrews 13:15-16

BY Melanie Rainer

My toes tend to curl when I hear the word “sacrifice.” My toes curl when I’m uncomfortable, when my anxiety spikes, or when I see something gross or gory flash across the television screen. It’s involuntary, like the knee-jerk reflex test at my annual physical. There’s some sort of connection in my brain between the word “sacrifice” and the feeling of danger and discomfort.

I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad reaction, but one that gives me pause when I think about today’s readings. Even the notion of “worship as sacrifice” feels a little primitive, conjuring up images of priestly rites and clean animals and fires and blood.

The Old Testament sacrificial system depended on an exchange: the clean blood of an animal exchanged for a person’s uncleanness. Psalm 51 shows David’s prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. It is full of references to the sacrificial system but hints at the salvation to come: “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering” (v.16).

We no longer have to offer blood sacrifices to draw near to God; rather, Jesus has served as the sacrifice. Hebrews 10 gives us all the assurance of this blessed truth: “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time” (v.10).

Ritual sacrifice is no longer required from us, but as we read today, sacrifice is presented as a form of worship. Throughout the New Testament, we see sacrifice exhorted and explained. It is part of our life of worship, our response to who God is and what He has done for us.

The beautiful story in Luke 7 shows a sinful woman offering her finest perfume to wash the feet of Jesus. Her sacrifice is monetary, but she also lays down whatever pride and fear she must have had. Given the scornful cynicism of the Pharisees who watched her, her actions must have cost her substantially more than an alabaster jar of fine perfume.

In Romans 12, Paul calls believers to sacrifice by living differently than the present age. “Do not be conformed to this age,” he writes (v.2). Reflecting on what it would truly mean for me to live differently than the world also makes my toes curl.

Hebrews 13 gives us two more examples of sacrifice: praise and good works. Philippians 4 commends financial offerings as sacrifice (v.18). And Mark 12 tells us that loving God and loving our neighbor are more valuable than burnt offerings (v.33).

Sacrifice looks like submission to God as He renews my heart, mind, words, service—my whole life—to better reflect His perfect character and boundless mercy. I am called to sacrifice my sinful nature, my active temptations, and my selfishness in an ongoing act of worship and praise to God, whose sacrifice alone makes me worthy to stand before Him.

Post Comments (32)

32 thoughts on "Worship Through Sacrifice"

  1. NanaK says:

    “Sacrifice looks like submission to God as He renews my heart, mind, words, service—my whole life—to better reflect His perfect character and boundless mercy. I am called to sacrifice my sinful nature, my active temptations, and my selfishness in an ongoing act of worship and praise to God, whose sacrifice alone makes me worthy to stand before Him.”
    My ongoing act of sacrifice—I don’t know that I’ve thought of submitting to God in this way. So simple, yet so very important in my daily walk. Thank you Melanie and all of you, dear Sisters for your thoughtful insight. I thank God for the blessings of SRT Bible studies and the ability to connect with so many Sisters around the globe.

  2. Erin says:

    Motherhood is certainly teaching me these things in a whole new way. I really needed to be reminded on this today, thanks SRT.

  3. Jennifer AndersMiller says:

    Beautifully said! Your words are such an encouragement.

  4. Ashley P. says:

    When I first read Hebrews 13:16 today, I wondered what it meant when it said, “Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share”…to share what? Does it mean to share physical things with others, to share my time and my energy, or to share words telling what God has done? Or all of the these things…? That led me to reading other versions of that verse, and the message version stood out to me. It says, “ make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship — a different kind of ‘sacrifice’ — that takes place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.” I love that. God takes particular pleasure when we share with others in our day-to-day living. I don’t necessarily have to go serve in a soup kitchen or in the church (although those things are certainly good) but even just sharing what I have with others and working for the common good in my job and as I go about running errands bring a special kind of joy to the Father.

  5. Melissa Graves says:

    My MIL lives in a memory care facility about a mile down the road. Every day we drive my FIL, who lives with my husband and I, there and back for lunch and dinner. He is passionate about being there for her every day. My husband and I are committed to facilitating his support. Friends and strangers and even the employees at the facility comment about what a wonderful daughter in law I am, to provide such care to my in laws. I am humbled by the praise because of how much I fail…I get impatient, angry and overwhelmed from the challenges of dealing with the effects of dementia (they both have it). But I am also encouraged because if observers are seeing anything good in me, it is absolutely God’s doing! I have so far to go in this faith journey, but when I offer myself as a living sacrifice, He takes it, blesses it and uses it for my good, the good of others and, most importantly, His glory!

  6. Maura says:

    What good words I glean from SRT daily. Thank you all for sharing. Growing up in the country we raised animals and butchered chickens ourselves. The thought of the sacrifice of animals always brings back to my memory the mess and smell of the times of butchering. It was not pleasant and hard work. The woman weeping at Jesus feet is so aware of who He is. I wonder how her heart leaped when He said her sins were forgiven. And yet I know, because He has forgiven mine and shed His own blood to make my forgiveness possible. When I have found myself weeping because the Holy Spirit makes me aware, it is overwhelming the goodness of our Lord, who became the only sacrifice we would ever need. May Jesus be praised by these lives we live and may we pour out our praise and love as extravagantly as the woman in response to His love and find all the little altars where we can glorify the Lord with our actions of putting Him first.

  7. Alexis says:

    The sacrifice of me exalts Him. Love this Churchmouse; thanks so much for your insight!

  8. Sarah at SmallWorld says:

    Ahhh, Churchmouse! “Being aware of the little opportunities to serve Him wherever I am, in whatever way I can, as quietly as I can. So today I will look for little altars He puts in my path. I will humble myself and offer what I can at that moment.” Thank you so much for these words. I’m praying today that I can be more aware of the little altars, the moments when I can choose His way rather than my way.

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