Faith Bible Blog

Information and Reflections for the FBC Family

Sacrifice & Suffering

On our elder retreat this last weekend, we spent a great
deal of time praying, talking, laughing and discussing what God may have in
store for FBC in the coming years. On
Monday morning, we spent a little time reflecting on Christian suffering and
how trivial our trials are, comparative to the experience of many in the Bible,
and the present day situation of many of our Christian brethren around the
globe. We spent time defining suffering
and considering the mild examples we see it in our lives. The conclusion of this brief discussion was
that we do suffer as Christians…in extended family relations, in lost business
opportunities, in keeping our word to others even when it hurts. Yet these are slight and easy trials to
suffer through – particularly when you consider the general treatment &
life of believers through history. This
rich luxury of our present lives is a challenge and a danger. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much
shall be required” (Lk 12:48, ESV). Hence, Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:16-19,

17 Instruct
those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their
hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all
things to enjoy.18 Instruct
to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to
share,19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation
for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

God is sovereign over suffering. He determines the days when we shall have
plenty and the days when we shall be in need. He permits evil to come upon us and withholds it when it is more than we
can bear (cf., Job 1-2, 1 Cor 10:13). Whether or not we suffer is according to the will of God and His perfect
timing (1 Pet 4:19). The question is not
‘do we suffer enough as Christians?’ That is up to God. However, there
is a commensurate question that should be asked. “Do you maintain a lifestyle of
self-sacrifice?” In the phraseology of 1
Timothy 6, are you generous and ready to share? Where is it that you are storing up treasure…here or in heaven? (cf.,
Matt 6:19-24)

One of the best places you see this illustrated is in 2
Samuel 24. There David (and the nation
of Israel)
is being disciplined by God for David’s sin. By command of the Lord, David was to build an altar and offer sacrifices
to God to end the time of chastisement. This altar was to be built on the threshing floor of Araunah the
Jebusite. Araunah was a pre-Israelite
inhabitant of Jerusalem,
and David was the king. David’s
chastisement by God had come in the form of a plague. Seventy thousand people had already
died. David, under direct command from
God, came to Araunah to build an altar on his threshing floor. Put another way, the king approached the
foreigner and told him of his need for his land. Araunah’s response was what you might
expect. Look, the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges and the
yokes of the oxen for the wood. Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king
. (2 Sam
12:22f) David as king had the right of
‘imminent domain.’ He could appropriate
Araunah’s possessions as his own and make the required offerings. But David’s response demonstrates that he
understood what sacrifice was.

However, the king said
to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it
from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.” (2
Sam 24:24)

Are you in the habit of sacrificing that which cost you
nothing? Genuine sacrifice comes at a
cost. Times of suffering are appointed
by God, but a lifestyle of sacrifice is up to you.

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Author: John Pleasnick

John serves as a pastor and elder at Faith Bible Church

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