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. (2 Samuel 24:24, NIV)
There is an old adage that says, “The best things in life are free.” There is also a modification of the same adage, which says,
“There is nothing free in life. Someone must have paid for it.”Unknown
This is very true — free things come at a price.
Many of the great things in life come at a sacrifice. For example, most freedom fighters like the Mau Mau of Kenya sacrificed their lives to gain independence.
Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison to bring to an end the oppressive apartheid rule.
James H. Billington in his book, Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations mentions how Theodore Roosevelt maintained the morale of his navy troops by reminding them of the sacrifice they had to make to secure the future of their nation in these words:
“Every man among us is more fit to meet the duties and responsibilities of citizenship because of the perils over which, in the past, the nation has triumphed; because of the blood and sweat and tears, the labor and the anguish, through which, in the days that have gone, our forefathers moved on to triumph” [emphasis added].
The freedoms that we enjoy are a result of the “blood, sweat, and tears” of those who preceded us.
It’s not only freedom that came at a price. There are many elements of human progress that came about because of the sacrifices of individuals.
The infrastructural development projects are as a result of sacrifices made by many entities.
For example, the East African railway connecting Kenya and Uganda came at a price. Many members of the Asian and African communities who built the railway were killed by the man-eaters of the Tsavo — a pair of male marauding lions that terrorized the rail builders.
Talking about infrastructure, I remember a story that was shared by one of the retired pastors at a farewell fellowship meeting.
The elderly pastor shared a story of how one day they were awestruck by the engineering work done on a newly constructed road connecting Kenya to Ethiopia.
His friend pastor remarked that the smoothness of the road came at a price — it was a product of labor by men to the point of death.
The pastor recounted how a local Samburu man had killed one of the contracted engineers by driving a spear into his heart after a misunderstanding on payment.
The death of this innocent man was an example of the many sacrifices made to build the road.
The above story serves to remind us that there are many smooth paths in our lives that came to be because of the sacrifices made by others. Those who preceded us prepared and paved the way for us.
In our Bible text above, King David insisted on paying for the cost of the sacrificial animal instead of accepting a free offer from one of his subjects Araunah.
David understood that sacrifices must cost you something. To attain something, whether spiritual or material, there is always a price to pay.
Our Salvation Came at a Price
The apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians, who were struggling with sexual immorality, that they had to lead and live a pure life because they were bought with a price.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NIV).
Our salvation is free because Christ, through his sacrificial death, paid the ultimate price. Christ, our elder brother, preceded and prepared the way for us. Our Lord and Savior smoothened the road for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2,3, NIV)
The joy of seeing us redeemed was what motivated Him to endure the cross and shame. Our salvation is what made Him endure opposition. It cost our Savior everything.
The gospel of Christ rides on the wheels of self-sacrifice. There is nothing that the Christian church can do without the self-sacrificing service of its members.
Are there times you feel like giving God offerings that cost you nothing? Do you ever feel like sacrificing for the course of God is something other people ought to do and not you? Does that sound like you?
It is not a good thing for you to fold up your arms and passively watch others sacrifice for the cause of God. You would do well to say together with David, “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
This reminds me of Bob Michaels’ song “Anything that costs me nothing,” from his 1988 album “Time.”