Sacrificial compassion

We are called to provide life and hope to others, but it comes at a cost to ourselves.

We are called to provide life and hope to others, but it comes at a cost to ourselves.

Romans 5:6-8 – “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Messiah died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person ​– ​though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us.”

There is no greater example of compassion than the ultimate sacrifice God provided for those who refused to believe in him whole heartedly: his own Son. The Jews had rejected God as their king because they wanted an earthly king. They then rejected their earthly king and replaced him with the idolatry of the nations and political ambition. They then looked forward with a hope for a Messiah, and yet rejected him when he arrived because he did not match their expectations.

The Jewish nation was sinful because they had neglected the worship of the true God and had replaced it with their own unattainable system of rules and regulations far above anything God ever imagined for them. Though as a nation they claimed to be righteous and holy, they were in fact impious, ungodly, wicked sinners. That is what the word ungodly means in the verse above: “Messiah died for the ungodly.” Yeshua had come proclaiming the kingdom of God, and they rejected both him and his message. There is nothing more ungodly than rejecting the Word of God which was present in the very person of Messiah Yeshua.

Yet, in remarkable and unheard of obedience, Messiah willingly allowed himself to be mercilessly crucified on their behalf. They refused to die to themselves, so he died for them. He had become their rightful king and ultimate Lord, and they rejected his authority which had come straight from the living God, choosing instead to have him killed.

I don’t know what possible personal infraction you could have suffered that could take precedence over the injustices suffered by Messiah. Yet even through all of that unjustified criticism and rejection, he exemplified the deepest compassion for his own people, those who were like lost sheep, scattered amidst a depraved world. And in so doing, he opened the door for anyone else who desires to come to the God of the universe, as well. If they could have peace with God through faith in him, then so can we. Anyone who places their faith in the Messiah of God is likewise received with gladness and rejoicing in the presence of God.

A sacrificial compassion will be exemplified in similar ways: one must die to oneself in order to provide life and hope to others. As his children through faith, this is who we are, and what we are called to do.


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Forgiveness always comes at a cost to someone

Forgiveness always positively changes a relationship, but it always comes at a cost.

The book of Leviticus is the heart of the “law of Moses,” the torah, or instruction that Moses provided to Israel. In it is outlined much of the ritual that defined the ancient Israelite worship of God. To our modern Western mind, some of the practices appear to make no practical sense, such as specific types of offerings that God expected his people to provide.

However, if one looks more closely at chapters 4-6, a pattern emerges that has significance even for us today. Amidst all of the rules and regulations, we can see that God desires to forgive his people when they have strayed from right paths.

Leviticus 4:26, 31 Through this process, the priest will purify the leader from his sin, making him right with the LORD, and he will be forgiven. … Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the LORD, and they will be forgiven.

Leviticus 5:6, 10 This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the LORD. … Through this process the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the LORD, and you will be forgiven.

Leviticus 6:7 Through this process, the priest will purify you before the LORD, making you right with him, and you will be forgiven for any of these sins you have committed.”

All of these instructions point to one thing: God desired for the people to be reconciled with him, otherwise, why would he spend so much time describing how they were to go about making that happen?

An often-overlooked aspect of this process of forgiveness is the cost that the individual had to incur when bringing a sacrifice. Bulls, goats, rams, sheep, birds; all of these were costly offerings for sin that had to be brought to the priest in order for God’s forgiveness to be granted.

This highlights an important principle: when forgiveness is granted, it always costs somebody something; it is never free.

There was nothing inherent in the animal itself that somehow provided this forgiveness. This is even brought out in the New Testament writings.

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

No, it was the value of the sacrifice that demonstrated the sincerity of the giver. The offerer had to demonstrate true intent (that is, repentance). Among other things (like the identity substitution), the giving of a perfectly good animal that could provide much personal benefit to the offerer was a way of showing they were sincere in asking for forgiveness.

The bringing of the animals to the priest was not for blood debts to be repaid, and God certainly didn’t need the animals for himself. But through this process, he was teaching the Israelites that there is a value to be exchanged for a renewed relationship with God.

Forgiveness always positively changes a relationship, but it always comes at a cost. This is why it is even still a custom today to bring a gift to someone when apologizing for some sort of relationship transgression. The thoughtfulness or value of the gift demonstrates the sincerity of the giver.

We are commanded by Yeshua to forgive others and to love our enemies when they don’t deserve it or when they are not demonstrating sacrificial repentance. Even if we are approached multiple times a day by the same individual, we are to forgive them. When these types of passages are discussed today, what is rarely mentioned is the cost that this forgiveness exacts from us. If the individual asking for forgiveness is not providing some sort of sacrificial benefit on their behalf, then the one who is absorbing or carrying the cost of the forgiveness is you.

This is why the act of forgiveness is so unique among God’s people today. Forgiveness that is freely offered is not cheap, it still comes at a great expense. It is a sacrificial lifestyle with real cost to the believer in every relationship. But the sacrificial obedience that God demands of us provides for positive relationships in all areas of life and honors him by demonstrating we have learned the true value of forgiveness.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.