“‘Why have you come, my lord the king?’” Araunah asked.
David replied, ‘I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.’
‘Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,’ Araunah said to David. ‘Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.’
But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.’ So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.”
2 Samuel 24:21-24
I wonder when it was that I was taught that offerings aren’t painful, that you don’t grieve over the cost sometimes.
When I was a little girl, my parents would give me a quarter or some other small amount of money to throw into the offering plate. It cost me nothing. Then, of course, as I grew older I began giving my own money. I remember the times when I was happy to give, joyful at giving part of what I had earned to God. But, I also recall times, particularly in my married years when money was tighter where it was hard to put the check in the offering plate and I thought about all the ways that the money would help us. I would lose sight of the joy in being a part of the Kingdom, the joy that comes with obedience. I focused on the loss, but I never saw its beauty.
Because I know that there is a cost to following Jesus and this isn’t a surprise. The Son Himself told us so when He talked among us. And therein lies the wonder of all this pain and loss. That He left the perfection of Heaven and came down.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
And I wonder, were there days when He missed His true home? When he grieved the loss of His Father? We know he was tempted and that he experienced every human emotion. Surely then He felt loss. We know He wept when one of His dearest friends died, even though He knew that resurrection was coming. Surely He experienced the reality of painful submissions. Indeed He offered His life, the greatest of all offerings, but He did so for the joy set before Him. He endured and suffered, His body broken, committing His spirit unto God.
And here we are. My little family in Papua New Guinea. And sometimes I think that God asks too much of me and too much of my husband and children. It hurts and I feel like we’ve given so much already. Yet, I find myself reading David’s words and thinking, “Yes. Why would I want to give God something that cost me nothing?” Not that loss makes an offering more significant or that there are highest honors waiting for us in Heaven. But how much more beautiful to taste a little bit more the sufferings of Jesus? How much sweeter to know Him more intimately? How much greater to lose more of self, and gain more of Him? Oh to gain even more! Further up and further in!
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.