On Sacrifice and Fasting

By sacrifice I don’t mean “blood sacrifice”, rituals which were conducted during the Old Testament. It is not about killing bulls and goats on the altar of God; neither is it about offering human sacrifice (ie: the ones offered to Baal/Molech, suggested to Abraham offering Isaac). In this article, sacrifice refers to the pleasurable/comfortable things we give up for God (ie: fasting, serving, etc.).

Do they still matter to God?
Or are they done in vain?

I’ve been thinking about this since Holy Week. I’ve come across a lot of people who fasted throughout Lent to prepare themselves for the culmination of the Christian calendar on the commemoration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. I find it intriguing that people have their very own versions of fasting: some skip meals, some abstain from meat, I know a person who fasted from coffee, and I even know another who abstained from wearing make up and jewelries; whichever it is, their pledges enacted a form of “sacrifice” or giving something we love up for the Lord.

Thoughts have been running in my mind, is God pleased with all these sacrifice? Do they matter at all?


I have no choice but to blame these doubts on sermons that drilled in our heads that “our works don’t matter anymore”. Believe me, I’ve heard tons of preaching on “REST”; which are usually misconceived by the listeners as to sit back and relax and let God be God. To let go and let God. To stand still and know that He is God. The message sent is that there is no more “works” for us to do in this life that any thing we add will only cause more trouble to God. The best example given was the case of Abraham: if he only waited on God instead of caving in to the pressures of his wife (to sleep with the slave-girl Hagar) then our world would have dodged a whole lot of conflicts. Preachings like these made me feel that if I “act” or “work” for God, it is because I lacked faith and that I lacked patience.

Sometimes your works and sacrifices may even be mistaken as stemming from a fleshly pride:
“The sacrifices you give to God will never be good enough anyway”. “Who are you to give or to do something for Him?” “Don’t you know that He commands innumerable angels to minister to His needs? What makes you think that your contributions will be any good?”

What are we supposed to do? According to this theology, we’re supposed to “rest in Him” or “work from His victory”; which I suppose is another way of saying: “do nothing and out of faith expect good things to manifest in your life”. If we apply this to sacrifice and fasting, what will come out that these acts are no longer necessary in our Christian life. I simply do not agree with this.


Our sins have already been forgiven through the cross (I fully agree), Jesus Christ has already achieved victory and has conquered the world (I fully agree -John 16:33), so all we have to do right now is to be at peace and enjoy this life. I still agree on the third statement but not fully as we Christians were not blessed so that we can enjoy this life for ourselves. We still have work to do for The Kingdom – that’s why we are still here in this world!

Going back to the summary of God’s commandments, we are to love God and love our neighbors. Focusing on the first, our work right now consists of polishing this relationship with God – we are to keep investing in this relationship because The Lord wants this connection with us (as opposed to this world’s goals which simply aims to break us apart from the Great Vine). Through communion, worship, prayer, even sacrifice, we invest in this great relationship between us and The Lord.

I remember an image in The Bible of a woman who sacrificed nearly a year’s pay in order to pour perfume on the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ. This sacrifice will not go without resistance even from fellow believers. Nay sayers will protest, some will even say “it is a waste of money” “it is a waste of time” thinking that God doesn’t need any of our sacrifice. What is the attitude of our Lord on this?

“Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me?”
Matthew 26:10

The Lord Jesus Christ accepted her sacrifice and calls it “a good thing”. The Lord Jesus Christ even honoured what the woman did and immortalized the memory of her sacrifice (v13). By this image alone, will this not convince people that God wants to have a relationship with us and as such He takes pleasure (or displeasure) in what we do?

The Lord doesn’t need our sacrifice, neither are they commanded. However, The Lord enjoys the spontaneous exchanges between Him and His children. God found it even cute (my interpretation) to see how sweet little David sought to build The Lord a house; He who cannot be contained by the entire universe be gifted a small shack on Earth? The Lord “appreciated” the thought or even found it amusing that God Himself promised David: “I will build you a house” (2 Samuel 7:11).

Without faith it is impossible to please God. That also means that through faith He can be pleased. I’m connecting this to an older article I wrote about The Book of Remembrance to show that even if we are dealing with The Almighty God, He can still be pleased (or displeased) with us, just like in real human relationships.

Let’s not allow others to shame us for serving The Lord.

So, carry on and do the things you do to glorify God and even make Him happy. Like the woman who anointed The Lord Jesus’ feet, wanting to love God is NOT an indication of pride. It is a natural response of grateful children to an all loving Father. We know we can never love Him fully or worthily but that doesn’t mean that we give up loving Him at all.

And how do we show our love for Christ? We do it by following His command of loving others. I bid we carry on this journey, this work which will definitely come with sacrifice, and even allow the thought that we are doing this for The Lord and that He likes it! I have to clarify, that No, this is not for salvation and it is not even to gain His approval. It is simply to behave like good children attempting, through our emptiness, to show our Father that we too want to love Him.

Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

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