Matthew wrote, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Mankind has been tried and tested since the time of Adam and Eve to see if they would put God first in their lives. God expects us to sacrifice all that is good in our lives for something that is so much better. In sacrificing, we consecrate our time, our talents, our possessions, and our energy.
Sacrifice in the time of Adam and Eve and until the time of Christ was in the form of animal sacrifice (see Moses 5:5). Animal sacrifice was an ordinance of the gospel, and the people were commanded to sacrifice the best of their herds. The animals had to be perfect and without blemish. The purpose of this ordinance was to remind the people of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. Jesus Christ was perfect in every way and offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, including you and I (see Moses 5:5-8).
Jesus Christ came to earth and fulfilled the prophecies foretelling His life on earth. His mission in life was to be a Savior of all mankind, and He fulfilled His mission by giving His life on the cross. Because Jesus Christ sacrificed His life, everyone who ever came to earth can be saved by repenting of their sins.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ marked the end of blood sacrifice; the sacrament replaced blood sacrifice and was given to remind us of the great sacrifice of the Savior. The bread and water remind us of the Savior’s bruised body and his blood that was shed for us.
Even though blood sacrifice is no longer required, we are still required to sacrifice. In our day the Savior of the world asks us to offer a different kind of sacrifice. “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” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 9:19-20).
When we have a broken heart and contrite spirit, we have deep sorrow for our sins, we humble ourselves, and we repent of our sins. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice will have little effect on anyone who refuses to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit to God.
This means that we become a living sacrifice. We must be willing to give everything we have to build the kingdom of God, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are asked to give of our time to serve other people and to give of our means to build meetinghouses, temples, church schools, etc. We must be willing to offer our daily activities as a sacrifice to God. As prophets and apostles before us, we must say, “Thy will be done.”
We can become worthy to live in the presence of God only through sacrifice. God ordained that mankind should enjoy eternal life through sacrifice. Many people who came before us offered everything they had. Even though most of us have not made this great sacrifice, we must be willing to do so. We may not be asked to sacrifice all things, but we may be asked to sacrifice something – such as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. We should live with willingness to sacrifice all things in order to be worthy to live in the presence of the Lord.
Those people who truly love the Lord have always been willing to make great sacrifices, but their sacrifices came in different ways. The Mormon Pioneers sacrificed property, relationships, and even life itself to become members of the Lord’s kingdom. Many of people have been persecuted simply for being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many new converts give up their families to join the church. Many other people have lost close friendships, jobs, and lives.
We have been promised that our sacrifices will not go unnoticed: “And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29). As our testimonies grow stronger, we are capable to make greater sacrifices to the Lord.
Any sacrifice we make of our time, talents, energy, money, and lives is nothing compared to a place in the kingdom of Heavenly Father. Through our sacrifices we can gain the knowledge that we are acceptable to God (Doctrine and Covenants 97:8).