Personal Sacrifice by Members
David was the type and father of Christ according to the flesh. He was called a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). All are aware that he was not sinless by any means; still he radiates the basic principles necessary for the true servant in all ages. This is most certainly true in the matter of personal sacrifice.
Once David sinned by counting Israel and God sent a plague on the nation. When David repented of his evil, God ordered him to sacrifice at the threshing floor of Onan the Jebusite (1 Chronicles 21). Onan was a generous man and wanted to give David the threshing floor and the oxen for the sacrifice, but David refused saying: "but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is shine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost" (I Chron. 21: 24). In these words we find demonstrated at least two basic principles upon which personal sacrifice to the Lord must rest to be acceptable:
1. David shows a personal sacrifice is necessary to one's salvation. With this the apostle Paul agreed in these words: "But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden" (Gal. 6:4). A great many are always glad for somebody else to make personal sacrifices but are not ready or willing to do so themselves. It is fine for some to support themselves while preaching the Gospel but a great many members will not miss one small luxury, nor will they sacrifice one minute of their "free time" in the service of the Lord. Unlike David they are happy to take that which belongs to another and "offer it unto the Lord."
It is fine for gospel preachers to move every time a contentious or cantankerous person pitches a fitbutnot many will make the personal sacrifice of moving themselves for the Gospel's sake. Neither will some endure the slightest discomfort so the Lord's money can be used to support Gospel preaching. When members learn the necessity of personal sacrifice and what it constitutes, they will give out of their very living, as did the widow Christ blessed. When members are willing to sacrifice some of their personal pleasures and leisure for the cause of Christ we shall see the cause bloom like an irrigated desert! Emphasizing personal consecration Jesus said, "He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 10:39). Since the time of Abel God has required a personal sacrifice of each man's most valuable possessions and not even the poorest servant of God has been exempted. In like manner God refuses to take that which is worthless or belongs to another. All need to learn this is true for us today as it was for David. Now let us consider the second basic principle underlying David's sacrifice at Onan's threshing floor:
2. David shows a sacrifice must cost the offerer something. David was unwilling to offer that which cost him nothing, for it is not the greatness of the cost but the proportion of the gift to the givers ability that counts. The widow's mite came from her "very living"` and so it cost her greatly. Those who claim to serve the Lord must see clearly that it is impossible to serve God by offering services or sacrifices that cost them nothing. Those whose prime concern is for themselves will not go out of their way to serve God but will seek the easiest and least expensive way to offer their service in the name of religion. People must learn that services offered which cost them nothing are worth nothing. Attempts to offer such only add sin to ingratitude as God showed concerning ancient Israel in the time of Malachi. "And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick is it not evil?" (Malachi 1:8).
Present day appeals to lack of personal sacrifice reveal the true spirit behind many of the present promotions in evangelism and benevolence. Brethren appeal to the idea of giving out of abundance with no loss of luxuries. Some believe they may sit back in luxury and brag about what "WE" are doing in the fields of evangelism and benevolence while they are actually charter members of the "7c a week club;' (I called them 24-50c a week club long before their own survey revealed it was only 7c a weekHAK). Practically all of the Human Institutions today find their chief supporters among those who would offer that which costs them nothing in "sacrifice to the Lord." It costs nothing to give 50c a week to "support" an "orphan" in some Human Institution. It costs nothing to give a few dollars to a "campaign for Christ" or some other big promotion that thrives on a little from the many. It costs nothing to go to worship one or two hours a week for there is an abundance of time left to "enjoy life" since most do not study or teach anyone else. With such sacrifices God cannot be pleased and those who are truly "men after God own heart" would be ashamed to offer such.
Brethren, learn God requires a PERSONAL SACRIFICE of that WHICH BELONGS TO YOU. He requires your whole body as a "living sacrifice" (Rom. 12: 1). He requires YOUR TIME and YOUR POSSESSIONS that you call your own. When individuals learn these lessons we shall find even in great poverty abundant support for the truth and the care of the needy, as Macedonia proves still (2 Cor. 8:1 ff). When we find personal sacrifices based upon the spirit and principles of David, there we shall find the Lord's cause safe, secure and growing. Where we find men and women glorying in Human Institutions and activities satisfying the flesh we may find worldly growth but there will be little personal sacrifice for all will be serving the God of collectivism and promotionalism which live and thrive in the soil of little, if any, personal sacrifice!
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 2, pp. 18-19 November 1965