What is Sacrificial Worship?

Called to Worship – Issue #10
by Phil Mershon 

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 1 Chronicles 21:24

If you’ve been a Christian for very long, you’ve probably heard a sermon on the widow’s mite as lauded by Jesus in Mark 12:42-44. In contrast to the pompous self-righteous teachers of the law, the widow gave sacrificially—even her last coins.

What would cause you to give away everything you have? This isn’t a rhetorical question to get you thinking about the widow. I mean you. What would cause you and me to sacrifice our entire earthly income for someone else?

Chris Gross did. After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Chris saw the 150 children survivors and wondered who would help them go to college. Remembering his parent’s sacrificial gift of a college education, Christ decided to live off savings for a year and give away his entire $54,000 salary and establish a college fund for survivors.

King David had become complacent to the internal enemies of pride and lust. In a moment of brazened arrogance, David commands his Joab to count the troops (see 1 Chronicles 21).

That may sound fairly benign, but it clearly was offensive to Joel and the LORD—and David knew it. He shifted his trust from God to his military prowess and the size of army. He momentarily forgot that God won all his battles. Now David (and Israel) must pay for his sin.

David chooses to place himself at the Lord’s mercy. After slaughtering 70,000 men, the LORD stops his angel of destruction and David is humbled. Another angel leads David to make a sacrifice.

David could’ve saved a few bucks. Araunah offered to pay for everything. David refuses. He knows his worship will be empty if it costs him nothing.

How many of us worship God every week and it costs us nothing?

Like the religious leaders Jesus condemns, George Barna has found “the more money a person makes the less likely he is to tithe.” In fact, this report shows that the average American gives less than 2% of his income to any charity. A church leader recently confided his members were only giving 1% of their income.

In the Old Testament the tithe (10% of gross income) was a minimum expectation. Offerings could bring giving to 20 to 30% of income. In the New Testament the call is to complete surrender out of gratefulness to God for his immense mercy.

We have the question wrong. Instead of asking how much we should give, we should ask, “How much do you want me to keep, LORD?” That would lead to sacrificial worship.

What does a response to God’s eternal grace look like?

Bob Fitts provides an amazing reflection on Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his precious son.

Brooke Fraser also provides some great reflections on the value of praise whether in plenty or little.


What does sacrificial worship look like for you?

About Phil Mershon

Phil is an ordained Presbyterian pastor, experienced worship leader, former missionary, and director of events for Social Media Examiner (see LinkedIn profile). He holds degrees in theology, counseling, music and economics. His passion is helping the church follow her calling in worship that is thoughtful, passionate and excellent, and leading churches toward cultural engagement. Follow his tweets: @called_2worship and @phil_mershon
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *