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Thursday, March 20, 2014

They Wouldn't Take Freebies

Illustration by: Salvatore Vuono
  • Chick Fil-A offers free meals to anyone who will dress up like a cow.
  • Brewster’s Ice Cream gives away free cones to those who show up in their pajamas.
  • International House of Pancakes gives free meals to celebrate National Pancake Day.

Several of my family members—I’ll protect the guilty—actually dressed up like cows and in their pj’s to get freebies. (Who wouldn’t do something silly for a chicken sandwich, ice cream, or walk in for blueberry pancakes?)

One of my heroines of the faith is Abraham’s wife Sarah. She had her faults, but she’s exemplary in that she supported her husband, obeyed him, and followed him all over the known world. She didn’t squawk about living in a tent and moving from place to place. God honored Sarah’s godly actions by miraculously making her the mother of the Jewish nation and praising her in 1 Peter 3:6. She lived to be 127 years old, and when she died, her husband mourned her.* The Bible says he actually wept over her. There’s no doubt that Sarah and Abraham had a very special love for each other.

Abraham needed a burial place for Sarah, so he talked to the children of Heth about the cave of Machpelah. Ephron offers to give Abraham the land, but Abraham refuses. Ephron mentions the price of 400 shekels of silver, and Abraham, viewing it a fair price, weighs out the money and buys the field with the cave. Abraham then buries his beloved wife in the cave. (This is the only land Abraham ever owns, even though all of Israel belongs to his posterity.)

David and the nation had sinned against God by numbering the people.* David acknowledged his sin, but it carried a penalty. God let him choose between three punishments: 
  1. Seven years of famine
  2. Running from enemies for three months
  3. Three days of pestilence

David chose the latter, because he knew that God’s mercies were greater than man’s (verse 14). David confesses his sin, and the prophet Gad tells him to build an altar at the threshing floor of Araunah, where the angel of judgment had paused the plague. Araunah offers to give David the threshing floor, oxen for the sacrifice, and anything else he’d require. David says, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel (2 Samuel 24:24-25).

Love demands sacrifice.

Abraham loved his wife and he wanted to bury her in space he had personally paid for. David loved God, and he knew that the sacred altar—for offering sacrifices for sins—required payment. He couldn’t offer to a Holy God that which cost him nothing.

Abraham and David wouldn’t accept gifts, because they loved deeply.

I wonder what we’re willing to sacrifice for love of family? For love of God?

Do we choose the easy way (the freebies), or are we willing to invest in love?

Jesus sacrificed everything for love.
  • The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20b).
  • And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour (Ephesians 5:2).
  • Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
  • And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5).

What does love cost?

Love for GodI beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1). I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

A husband’s love for his wifeHusbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself (Ephesians 5:25-28).

A wife’s love for her husbandWives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).

A child’s love for his parentsChildren, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Love requires sacrifice. There are no freebies.

*The story of Abraham is in Genesis 23:3-18. The story of David can be found in 2 Samuel 24:9-25.


  1. I think in David's case it had something to do with a sense of responsibility as well for his sin. Maybe that's on my mind because I just read a blog post this morning from a man in my church who told about once acting out of control at a football game, heckling the other team (whose players and coaches were doing things that were wrong), and it didn't hit him til later what a poor testimony that was. His boss talked about it with him but was ready to drop it, but this man voluntarily suspended himself from the next two games and told the students why in chapel. I so appreciated that: when leaders do wrong, it helps followers to see them acknowledge it and take responsibility for it rather than hush it up.

    But I can see love as a motivating factor as well - David's sorrow over his sin and his willingness to make it right stemmed from his love for God.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. From the commentaries I read, the sin was collective--David and the people. As leader, he was responsible. And yes, his love for God was the motivating factor for him. He also cared for the judgment on the people. I am thankful for David's righteous example.


Please share your thoughts.