'Tis the season for bargain hunting. Black Friday, Cyber Monday--deep discounts offered to entice spending. Everyone loves a good deal and seems willing to wait for hours in the cold for the chance to nab a bargain.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to save money, but there is something wrong when we take that same philosophy and apply it to our Christian lives. It seems that today there are too many people looking for a "discount Christianity." They want the good things God has to offer without the willingness to "take up their cross and follow Jesus." In 2 Samuel 24:18-24 we read:
On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" "To buy your threshing floor," David answered, "so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped." Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the LORD your God accept you." But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.
David knew the importance of sacrifice--it should cost us something or it isn't truly a sacrifice. We learn in 2 Chronicles 3:1 that this land David purchased becomes the place where Solomon's Temple was built. Had David simply taken the Arauah's gift for the sacrifice, the land would not have been available for the Temple.
We have too many Christians today that are very happy to sacrifice other people's things without considering the ultimate cost. What we give to God MUST cost us something, or it is not a true sacrifice. We live in times where everyone wants to get more and more "stuff" for themselves while neglecting their Christian obligations to feed the hungry, clothed the naked, and to take care of widows and orphans.
While I believe it is great for you to save money and get a great deal on the things that you need, is it right to purchase more than we need (25 pairs of shoes, four winter coats, etc.) and fail to help those in need because "we can't afford it?"
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus without sacrifice? It is an oxymoron. Jesus has called us to a life that costs us our life, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Our tithes and offerings are just one part of that. The fact that they are a sacrifice that costs us something is what makes them a real gift.
I had to deal with this myself recently. We don't have an HDTV and they are becoming more and more affordable. I really looked hard at getting one, but decided that, at least for now, it was money that could be used better elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, I really wanted a nice, big HDTV, but it was not the best use of the resources God has provided us right now.
The money that could have bought the TV will be better used to help people and not to help myself! Is it easy to do this? Nope! I really would like to see sports in High definition. For me, to splurge on me and ignore those hurting would be to try and discount my Christianity.