Sunday, 7 April 2013

SERMON: Sacrifice Brings Blessings

A Sermon by Matthew P Gill

One of the first principles God taught Adam and Eve was the Law of Sacrifice, and, in every dispensation since, that law has been consistently stressed. Whether the sacrifice involved burnt offerings, the consecration of all possessions to a united order, tithing, fast offerings, or less prescribed giving of ourselves and our possessions, we have been taught from the beginning that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).

The greedy, gasping person is usually unhappy, for he is seeking happiness by acquiring material things rather than seeking lasting things such as personal relationships. An old Scandinavian proverb says ‘Bare is his back who bears no brother.’ Such a person has not learned to follow the counsel that Paul gave to the Colossians ‘Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth’ (Colossians 3:2). When we sacrifice, we are building up our personal spiritual reserve and resources, not our earthly reserves, and for Latter Day Mormon that should be our goal, and nothing else.

Sacrifice is the crowning test of the gospel. Men are tried and tested in this mortal probation to see if they will put first in their lives the things of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). To gain eternal life, they must be willing, if called upon, to sacrifice all things for the gospel, we must be willing to sacrifice, there is no point calling yourself a Latter Day Mormon is you are not prepared to sacrifice and show God that He is the one in charge.

Those who understand the Law of Sacrifice rarely think of contributions to the Lord’s cause as a sacrifice at all. We may think that being a member of the true church needs no more sacrifice that becoming a member. When we think of sacrifice, we tend to think of such dramatic offerings as Abraham’s willingness to give his only son of the Prophet Joseph Smiths willingness to meet a brutal death, or of Ester’s willingness to put her life in jeopardy for he countrymen (Ester 4:16). Sacrificing one life, however, is not the only way to give of oneself for the building of the kingdom of God. The Lord requires a broken heart and contrite spirit. Individual circumstances must determine what kind of sacrifice the person is asked to give. ‘The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind, and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days (D&C 21:7/ 64:34Utah)

In matters of sacrifice, the question of ‘How much is enough?’ can be painful question. Sacrifice requires giving at some cost. David, at least, thought so. When Araunah the Jebusite graciously offered to give him oxen and wood for a sacrifice, David replied, “Nay but I will surely buy it of thee at a price; neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24). Sacrifice, to be effective, must cost something. The parable of the widow’s mite suggests that the relative personal cost is more important than absolute monetary value of the sacrifice.

For Latter Day Mormons, one story in the Bible should stand out and enable us to strive to sacrifice. In Mark 10:17-22, Jesus gave one of the most thought-provoking answers to the question of how much sacrifice is truly enough. When a young man asked him, ‘What should I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ The Saviour responded by reciting some of the Ten Commandments. Then the young man said to him, ‘Master, all these have I observed from my youth.’ Christ ‘beholding him, loved him’ and explained to the young man the sacrifice by which he might attain eternal life. ‘One thing thou lackest, go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, take up the cross, and follow me.’ The young man, Mark tells us, ‘was sad at that saying, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.” The true disciple must offer his whole soul and be willing to observe every sacrifice required by the Lord (Omni 1:26; D&C 81:2/97:8Utah)

So it is so very important that Latter Day Mormons remember that the Law of Sacrifice means that we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for the sake of truth: our character and reputation our honour and applause, our good name among men, our homes, lands, and families, all things, even our very lives if need be. (Lecture on Faith 6:5)

For, “When a man has of­fered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain.” (Lecture 6, 6:7)

Those faithful servants who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God.

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