EVERYONE sacrifices in life. Even non-believers or so-called atheist sacrifice as rational and scientific thinkers. For instance, whether you are a believer or non-believer, you may eventually lose your partner if you are a cheat or make them feel unimportant or irrelevant by seeing other partners while they are in your life.
So the universal law of karma or action and reaction operates on us all – believers and unbelievers alike. Therefore it is common sense to sacrifice, curb or control your desires for members of the opposite sex if you are already matched or there is someone in your life, especially if you want to keep your partner happy, whether you believe in God or not.
But perhaps the most interesting forms of sacrifices are the ones that are practised by those who believe in God and evil respectively.
People who believe in God sacrifice to Him by giving their time, money and resources for the advancement of the aims and objective of the church or temple.
In so doing, they align themselves with God’s purposes, that is, spreading the knowledge of God and good conduct among men and women in the world, and reap the fruits for their good actions accordingly.
People who believe in ancestors sacrifice goats, cattle, chicken, and sheep, to appease the spirits so that they can enjoy special favours, protection, promotion and care from the relevant departed spirits.
People who believe in Satan sacrifice other people, drink their blood and perform all forms of actions that are opposed to goodness, honour, kindness, generosity, etc., as a way of appeasing the devil who is perceived as a rebel that is against God’s purposes and the evil one rewards them accordingly.
In the Christian Bible, animal sacrifice was done to appease God by killing healthy animals at the altar in order to thank Him for good harvest, health, success, family, etc.
This, according to the Christian Bible, happened until God reportedly became unimpressed with such gifts because people were not truly repenting they would still go back to their old sins (e.g. theft, adultery, etc.) after sacrificing their animals to God.
Hence, God told His people that as the owner of the universe, who created all that is on Earth, He would easily help Himself to His animals if He wanted to eat. The message here is that God does not need animal sacrifice, but He uses it as a way of measuring the gratitude of people and their love for Him.
According to the Christian Bible, God then organised a better form of sacrifice that people could use to relate to Him i.e. sending Jesus Christ to the world to die for the sins of men and women of the world.
In essence, this refers to restoring good relations between the creator and the created, including sound moral conduct, and a healthy way of living that is based on respect, integrity, accountability, love, honour, etc.
What then is God’s purpose for His creatures?
Answering this dynamic question, American pastor and best-selling author, Rick Warren, whose wife was suffering from cancer as he opted to return his 24 years-worth of salary to the church he founded following his lucky break as wealthy writer of a book called Purpose Driven Life, had this to say.
“We were made by God and for God, and until we figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems. The reason for this is that, God is more interested in your character than your comfort. He is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy … you have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life … learning to deal with the good is harder.”
He writes that after becoming wealthy, God referred him to two scriptures, which dictated to him what to do with his money i.e. spread the word of God, train evangelists, give to the poor and help deserving students with money to get an education.
The first verse was 11 Corinthians 9, where Apostle Paul, a self-employed productive tent-maker and apostle of Christ, says: “…when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.”
And Psalm 72 speaks of a need for us to “pity the weak and the needy and save the needy from death … oppression and violence.”
It seems that giving back to society is the highest form of sacrifice, gratitude and honouring God, who enables you to achieve success, good health and longevity.
• Simphiwe Mkhize writes in his personal capacity.