And David said to Ornan, “Give me the site of the threshing floor that I may build on it an altar to the Lord—give it to me at its full price—that the plague may be averted from the people.”23 Then Ornan said to David, “Take it, and let my lord the king do what seems good to him. See, I give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for the wood and the wheat for a grain offering; I give it all.”24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (1 Chron 21:22-24)
When the plague on Israel stops at Ornan’s threshing floor, David is moved to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and so he asks Ornan to sell him his property. Ornan, seeing that the King is asking for something freely offers to give it to him. Samuel had explained to the people that the King could and would do this kind of thing, impressing into his service anyone or anything as he had need. Although it was David’s “right” to do this, he refuses saying, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” This gets right to the heart of what a burnt offering is meant to be – it is a true sacrifice. We are called to be living sacrifices to the Lord as our spiritual act of worship (Rom 12:1), but we little understand what true sacrifice means. We’re willing to give or do as long as we think we will get something from it, such as recognition or growth or a way to feel good about ourselves. But a sacrifice must cost us something.
How is it that you might give yourself as a living sacrifice? It is to give up your own kingdom building, your own reputation pursuits, and take up the yoke of Christ. It means living for the well-being of others and investing yourself in the cause of Christ. It costs you your life. The good news is that Jesus explains, “he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Have you sacrificed anything to the Lord that “cost” you something?