Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lesson: Sacrifice

It's appropriate that this lesson follows the one on Fasting, and soon to follow I'm sure will be the one on Consecration. Gospel principles build one on another, don't they? Thanks for a great lesson Margie.

Gospel Principles, Lesson 26, Sacrifice
Taught by Margie Clark

Object lesson: Cookies
If Margie made cookies (and she did and they were yummy!) but held some back or worried that we'd eat them all up and leave nothing for her, would it be sacrifice?

Yes, but only if the meaning was to forfeit or lose something. Which is hard to do; it hurts.

Sacrifice means to make sacred.

In that sense it's a goal we all are striving make ourselves sacred in preparation to live with God again.

Doctrine and Covenants 98: 14-15:
13 And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal.

14 Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.

15 For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.
The meaning of sacrifice
Sacrifice means giving to the Lord whatever He requires of our time, our earthly possessions, and our energies to further His work.

The Lord commanded, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Our willingness to sacrifice is an indication of our devotion to God.

People have always been tried and tested to see if they will put the things of God first in their lives.

Even though sacrifice by the shedding of blood was ended with the atonement of Jesus Christ, the Lord still asks us to sacrifice. But now He requires a different kind of offering.

He said: “Ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood, … and your burnt offerings shall be done away. … And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:19–20).

A “broken heart and a contrite spirit” means that we offer deep sorrow for our sins as we humble ourselves and repent of them.

We must be willing to sacrifice everything we have to the Lord
The Apostle Paul wrote that we should become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God (see Romans 12:1).

If we are to be a living sacrifice, we must be willing to give everything we have for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—to build the kingdom of God on the earth and labor to bring forth Zion (see 1 Nephi 13:37).

What examples of sacrifice have you observed in the lives of people you know? 
What examples of sacrifice have you seen in the lives of your ancestors? 
in the lives of early members of the Church? 
in the lives of people in the scriptures? 
What have you learned from these examples?

The Lord’s people have always sacrificed greatly and in many different ways. Some have suffered hardship and ridicule for the gospel. Some new converts to the Church have been cut off from their families. Lifetime friends have turned away. Some members have lost their jobs; some have lost their lives.

But the Lord notices our sacrifices; He promises, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29).

Sacrifice helps us to be "made sacred"
As our testimonies of the gospel grow, we become able to make greater sacrifices to the Lord.

M. Russell Ballard in a talk titled, The Law of Sacrifice said,
The primary purpose of the law of sacrifice is twofold: to test us and to assist us to come unto Christ.

The law of sacrifice provides an opportunity for us to prove to the Lord that we love Him more than any other thing. As a result, the course sometimes becomes difficult since this is the process of perfection that prepares us for the celestial kingdom to “dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever” (D&C 76:62).

How does sacrifice help us come unto Christ?

...the Prophet Joseph Smith explained an important relationship between the principle of faith and the principle of sacrifice: “Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; … it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

"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 and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 69).

To summarize: we must know what we do is pleasing before God and understand that this knowledge comes to us through sacrifice and obedience. Those who come unto Christ in this way receive a confidence that whispers peace to their souls and that will eventually enable them to lay hold upon eternal life.
He punctuates the principle with these words:
Our highest sense of sacrifice is achieved as we make ourselves more sacred or holy.
This we do by our obedience to the commandments of God. Thus, the laws of obedience and sacrifice are indelibly intertwined. … As we comply with these and other commandments, something wonderful happens to us. … We become more sacred and holy—[more] like our Lord!”

Related VFW blogposts:
Joseph Smith's quote on sacrifice
Find Nobility in Motherhood and Joy in Womanhood
Charity, The Pure Love of Christ

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