|I didn't have my own lamb photo, so I borrowed a free one.|
The Lord has always required sacrifice of His people. In Old Testament times and under the Mosaic law, the sacrifice was a blood sacrifice, to symbolize the coming atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. A lot of times we brush right past that thought and we do not look at what that really required of the participants. Now, I am no expert but....
These animals were the best that they had to offer. Some of the requirements were that it was a male animal without blemish. It is my understanding that these people raised these animals---they were their pets--they loved them.
The Bible Dictionary, under sacrifices states, "It is noteworthy that when three offerings were offered together, the sin always preceded the burnt, and the the burnt, the peace offerings. Thus the order of the symbolizing sacrifices was the order of atonement, sanctification, and fellowship with the Lord."
Sacrifice is a law. It is required of us. In our day of me and mine and my rights and I want it now---sacrifice seems like a very foreign concept. But it is still a concept and it is still required of us. So then the question becomes: How do we practice the law of sacrifice today?
Today the Lord requires a different kind of sacrifice. 3rd Nephi 9: 19-20 states, " ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood....and your burnt offerings shall be done away....And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit." The Gospel Principles Manual says that means "that we offer deep sorrow for our sins as we humble ourselves and repent of them." In the dictionary, contrite is defined as grieving and penitent for sin or shortcoming.
If we truly understood the scriptures and really believed them, i.e. no unclean thing can dwell with God (1st Nephi 10:21); we would understand that the tiniest sin of omission or commission would keep us from returning to our Father in Heaven---the smallest judgmental thought---would keep us out. And we of ourselves have absolutely zero power to rectify that, to fix it, and if we truly felt a part of the cost that Heavenly Father and the Savior paid to fix that for us, we would sacrifice and pay any price They asked of us. We would accept all of our callings and assignments. We would pay all of our tithing, follow the Word of Wisdom and have and keep a temple recommend. We would make the sacrifices necessary to bring our lives in harmony with the principles being taught. And as we learned new principles where we were not in line, we would make new sacrifices to bring our lives in harmony in those places.
D&C 97:8 Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are ahonest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are bwilling to observe their covenants by csacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are daccepted of me.
It is not enough to make covenants. We must observe them. The Lord tells us that we do that through sacrifice--and not just any sacrifice, but every sacrifice which I the Lord shall command---He gets to chose what the sacrifice is.
Elder Maxwell: The only truly unique gift we can give our Heavenly Father is the complete submission of our will; all else we give Him is only returning the things He has given us.
Also, from Elder Maxwell's biography: 'The true disciple develops, then, from accepting to appreciating, to adoring, and then emulating Christ. Now Neal was seeing that emulating One who suffered as Jesus did also means the follower must somehow yield his own kind of full sacrifice. "If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do," Elder Maxwell. Within that process that process, the Savior blesses us with the gift of the Spirit---including charity---after all we can do.'
So then, personal application:
I was giving a presentation to my son's third grade class about my 'job'---being a stay at home mom. They were studying the community and how the community is influenced by the work we all do. I felt prompted to go in a speak in a very bold way about the work of mothers. So I did. We were discussing how many children we have and the teacher said, "Mrs. L. likes having children so much that she kept having them." In the moment, I did not correct her. But after I got home and pondered her comment, I thought, I do not keep doing this because I like it. It is very, very difficult for me and if I were doing what I wanted to do, I would not have done this so many times. I do it because He asks me to. Now, I am not going to go into any doctrine to justify my position. This is a personal statement about my relationship with the Savior and what He has asked of ME. But because of Elder Maxwell's statement above, I am sure that for those of you who are serious in your discipleship, He has asked difficult things of you. But they will be different than what He has asked of me. And I have noticed, as I obey and receive the blessings of obedience, He again asks me to do that which is more difficult than what I have already done. Have you noticed the same things??