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Why Sacrifice Should Be Costly

Jonathon M. Seidl

May 23, 2024 | 3 minute read

I’ve been thinking a lot about sacrifice lately. I mean A LOT. 

So when we decided to make that our theme for this month’s blog posts, I was excited. There’s a lot bouncing around in my brain about it. But there’s one thing in particular that I don’t just want to share, I need to share. It’s an insight about sacrifice from the Bible that I never saw before, and, at the risk of sounding over the top, I’ll say that it has changed my life. Really. 

As we think about sacrifice not just this month but over the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, I think this insight is powerful. 

About six months ago, God made it very clear to me that I needed to tell a story about something that’s happened in my life. It’s a story about sanctification – the ongoing process of becoming more like Jesus. But sanctification stories aren’t always nice and clean. Mine isn’t. 

So I argued with God. After telling him, “no way,” he confirmed that I absolutely needed to tell the story. But that brought me to an uncomfortable place. See, when I tell this story, it could cost me some things. I’m not sure everyone will “get it” at first. In fact, there could be those who don’t get it at all. I have a fear that I could lose people: supporters, followers and even partners. 

I’ve been praying through that a lot. 

During one of my recent prayer sessions, God reminded me of a powerful story in the Bible. One that I had heard and read but never really studied. It's in the book of 1 Chronicles, chapter 21. Here, we find that King David — one of the titans of the Christian faith — had (once again) done something wrong. In this case, he took a census when God told him not to. God was angry, and he sent a "plague" to strike Israel.

David, full of remorse and realizing his error, was ready to listen to God. So God sent an angel to tell David to go to a specific place and build an altar and offer a sacrifice. When David arrived at this place, the landowner was awestruck. So awestruck, in fact, that he offered the land and the sacrificial animals to David for free. A nice deal for David, right?


Instead of taking the man up on the free offer, David does something incredible: He refuses. Why? This is where it gets really good. He says these words: "I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing." He then paid the man a lot of money for the land and the animals.

Did you catch that? Let me put it in the way someone once paraphrased for me: "I will not sacrifice that which costs me nothing."

That's when it hit me: God was telling me to do something, and I wanted it to come at no cost. I wanted it to be free. But God was telling me: Don't sacrifice that which will cost you nothing.

Friend, there are times that God is going to tell us to do something that scares us; to sacrifice something. And no matter how much we try to bargain with him or get out of it, we know what we have to do. And you know what he says?

1. “I will be with you.”

2. “It may in fact cost you something, and that's why it's a true sacrifice. If it doesn't cost you, then it isn't a sacrifice at all.”

I'm resting in that this season. I want you to as well.

But here's where it gets truly mind-boggling. As you finish the story of David in 1 Chronicles 21, chapter 22 starts out with something that brought me to tears. You know what it says? It's one little verse that appears like an, "Oh, by the way." Here it is: That little area that David refused to take for free, that random piece of land that God led David to, it became the site of the temple, the greatest and most important building in the history of Israel. The most sacred and glorious reflection of God on earth.

David’s costly sacrifice birthed the most incredible monument to God on earth. Wow. 

Friend, we may be scared or hesitant regarding something God is calling us to do, but when we are willing to sacrifice what he's telling us to sacrifice, he turns it into something great and incredible. Something beautiful. 

So, what temple will he build with your costly sacrifice?

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. (Jon) Seidl is a writer, speaker, and digital media strategist. He’s the author of the #1 bestseller, Finding Rest: A Survivor’s Guide to Navigating the Valleys of Anxiety, Faith, and Life.

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