“No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 1 Chronicles 21:24
The other day I saw a video on Facebook of a group of Chinese men and women crowding around a suitcase of Bibles like it was the last box of pizza in a room of starving children. They swarmed it, and then stood weeping and rejoicing that they held God’s word in their hands, some even kissing the Bible. For them, the cost of serving God is great. It is a cost they had to weigh carefully as they learned about God. In fact, it could cost their entire life just to own the Word of God. The closest thing to persecution in America is probably the Iranian American pastor, Saeed Abedini who has been imprisoned in Iran for his faith, but even that took place in Iran. We hear stories often about the persecution around the world. If you listen to almost any missionary, you hear stories of people who counted the cost and gave up a life with their family to join the family of God. But what is our cost?
Here in America, we have it easy! The gospel is served to us on the silver platter of freedom. For most people in America, the most “persecution” they ever face is perhaps being the “weird, religious kid” in high school and maybe being teased for it. Most Christians probably have 1-5 Bibles. or more; I have at least 3 of my own, not even counting my husband’s Bibles. God has become so common place in America, or the opportunity to worship Him at least, and I wonder how many of us have truly counted the cost of serving Christ. Are we making sacrifices, are we worshiping God, though it costs us nothing?
When David made this comment, he was trying to buy a threshing floor in order to build an altar to God as the Angel of the Lord requested. David had just trusted himself more than God and called for a census of the fighting men. He put himself and his power above faith in God. As part of his repentance, he was told to make a sacrifice on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Araunah offered to give everything to David, but David insisted on paying because he would “not take for the Lord what [was Araunah’s], or sacrifice a burnt offering that cost [him] nothing.”
A burnt offering was a voluntary act of worship that atoned for unintentional sin and established devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God. In the old testament, the cost of worship was mostly in the sacrifice of their livestock. It physically cost them something. For us, their isn’t really a physical cost of worship. Our voluntary act of worship that establishes devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God is ourselves. Romans 12 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” We are to be the living sacrifice; we are the cost.
Yesterday, as I was journaling about this and contemplating my end of it, my cost, it occurred to me that the cost of our worship will always be our soul. If we give up our soul, our entire life, dreams, goals, and ambitions now all for the sake of Christ, our cost is still our soul. If we refuse to give our dreams, goals, ambitions, our life and our soul, and if we choose to live as if we are number one and God is not, in the end, it still will cost us our soul for eternity. It is just as Jesus said in Matthew, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
I, like David, sometimes depend on myself rather than God. My trust is misplaced, but God always calls me back to His presence and urges me forward. Today I will count the cost, take up my cross, and follow my God. Today, I will lay my desires, dreams, and ambitions down and turn to God. Will you join me in this journey of faith? Will you count the cost?