Sacrifice is often a hot topic during the holiday season. We talk about giving up things we want or love in order to show our dedication to others. But what does the Bible say about sacrifice? Is it always about giving something up?
As we walk together and step into learning Bible verses about sacrifice, we are drawn into the presence of Christ and all that He has done for us. Jesus is the greatest sacrifice and there will never be any greater than He. Check out these verses to see what sacrifice really means according to God’s Word.
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What Does the Bible Say About Sacrifice?
The definition of sacrifice is: An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important and worthy
Stop end dwell in that space for a moment. In every Bible verse about sacrifice that you read here and in scripture revel in the fact that God is telling us that we are to place a greater value in Him and others before ourselves.
God leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to sacrifice. We are called to live in sacrifice, this will become evident in the scriptures below.
Sacrifice is a blessing, a gift, an honor, and it brings glory to those who receive it as well as those who give it. We know that we are to look to the life of Christ as an example for our own lives. How can one look at the sacrifice Jesus gave on the cross and not see the importance of sacrifice in their own life?
The Importance of Sacrifice in The Bible
Jesus sacrifice on the cross was for the atonement of our sins. He became the living sacrifice for all who would choose to believe in him and receive the gift of eternal life. His sacrifice took on all the condemnation that we deserved.
He gave up His life because He saw all of creation as more worthy than Himself. His love was so great that he offered up himself in our place.
So now we turn to sacrifice within our own lives. What is God calling us to in terms of sacrifice and sacrificial love? How do we bestow sacrifice upon others and what examples can we find in scripture?
Look no further! Below is a compilation of 15 Bible verses on sacrifice; what it was, what it is and how we are called to it.
Bible Verses About Sacrifice for Others
In the Bible, there are many verses about sacrifice. This speaks to the importance of sacrifice in Christianity. One of the most famous examples of sacrifice in the Bible is when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
He showed us that it is possible to love others more than ourselves. In order to follow Jesus’ example, we must be willing to make sacrifices for others. This may mean putting their needs before our own or doing something that is difficult or unpopular. When we willingly make these kinds of sacrifices, we show God how much we love Him and others.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17
This Psalm leans into the acknowledgment that God is longing for our hearts, whether whole or broken for He is the one who can repair and sustain them. In the Old Testament there was no amount of blood that could be shed on the alter to pay for the sins that were premeditated and hateful. Offering one’s own heart, no matter what shape it is in delights the Lord, because in that moment He knows we have chosen Him.
“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3
God knew that He would send Jesus to be the one true sacrifice. What He truly longed for from his people was obedience in what He had called them to.
“But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:13
This is a command to “go and learn”. Jesus wanted the people to understand that He wanted his people to live a certain way; to love others. This was valued over rituals, but many were stuck in what they were “doing” instead of how they were “loving”.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Matthew 19:21
Jesus had just finished listing a portion of the 10 commandments to the young man in this passage and the young man says, “I have done all of these things”, Jesus then tell him to sell his possessions and give to the poor.
If you keep reading you see Jesus talking to his disciples and He says, this is the hardest thing for the rich to do and that is why it is hard for them to enter Heaven.
Jesus knows that we have a hard time sacrificing our “things” and yet that is what he calls us to at times. He wants to know that we fully believe that He is all we need and that He will provide.
“ For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Jesus came to be a living sacrifice for us. Not only did he come to die on the cross for our salvation, but He came to serve. Jesus is not asking us to sacrifice anything that He in his humanness didn’t sacrifice as well. He lived His life in the same way that He is calling us to live, a life of service.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Luke 9:24
When we give our lives to Christ, we are swapping a selfish, greedy life in the short term for a magnificent life of abundant love, mercy, and honor for all of eternity.
” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
When we talk about Jesus being that living sacrifice, this verse sums it all up. God loves us all so much that He sent Jesus not only to the world but to the cross so that he could be the atoning sacrifice for all of us. God sent his son away and was separated from Him for 33 years, he watched Him suffer in agony for us.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” Acts 2:44-45
This scripture captures followers of Jesus sacrificing for the good of others. This fellowship of believers is the example of how we as a people and a church should be living out our lives for Christ. What a beautiful picture of the hands and feet of Jesus at work.
“I 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
“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”, what does this even mean? Jesus came as a living sacrifice. He came to serve. This is a call to believers to live like Jesus, and serve like Jesus.
“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 sweetsmelling savour.” Ephesians 5:2
To love is to sacrifice. When the word love is taken and used as an action, those actions are then offerings and sacrifice to God. When you love your neighbor, your love is a sacrifice. When you pay for groceries for a neighbor who can’t, your love is an offering. Use your abilities to love people to the Kingdom. Jesus loved people to the father. He sacrificed his own needs to love those around him first. He is calling us to do the same.
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28
Christ is sacrifice. If you need a definition of the word look no further than this scripture. Christ came and accepted the role of sacrifice for our sins, and he will come again to bring salvation to those still here, waiting for salvation.
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
Peter’s audience would have understood the imagery of being a spiritual house, a temple. The temple was where sacrifices were made to the Lord. The temple was where the people would go to be with God. Peter is now addressing the fact that each person was being built up to be where sacrifice was made and where God would dwell. The Holy Spirit living within the body of a believer and the sacrifices offered, being those that everyone would provide in terms of action, love and honor.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16
We are called as Jesus did to lay down our lives. To use our life in service to others. This can be literal, if there is a need for saving the life of another but this is also in reference to the life that we live. Are you living selfishly, for the benefit of yourself at the cost of others or are you living out the meaning of a sacrificial life by giving up something of value for the sake of something more important than yourself?
Bible Verses About Sacrifice and Love
There are so many Bible verses about sacrifice and love. It’s amazing how God’s word speaks to us in different ways at different times in our lives. These verses remind us that even though sacrifice can be hard, it’s always worth it in the end. They also remind us of the never-ending love God has for us. No matter what we do, He will always love us. These verses are a great reminder of how we should love others as well.
“And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.” Ruth 2:11
Ruth gives us a beautiful example of sacrifice when she leaves all that she has ever known to love and take care of her mother-in-law who has lost her husband and her sons. Boaz takes notice of Ruth’s sacrificial heart; she gave up so much to love her mother-in-law well.
“ Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:3-4
This is such a gentle reminder of what it takes to be a sacrificial person and to love others well. If we walk in kindness and truth, love and sacrifice are sure to follow.
“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31
As humans we all want to be loved and to be tried kindly and with fairness. Luke does a good job of saying, if you know that you want to be treated kindly and fair then go out and do the same for others. If you do not treat others as you would like to be treated, then what example are you setting?
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
If you have grown up in the church than this verse is no surprise to you. Jesus is reiterating to his followers that he was showing the greatest love that he could by sacrificing himself on the cross so that they all could live.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
The verse is really speaking to us as believers that “while we were still sinners”, this tells us that we are not called to simply serve and love those who we feel deserve it. We are called to love and sacrifice for ALL.
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3
If one is living a life of service, sacrifice and love but is doing so for the recognition of others, really, they have gained nothing. The Lord knows our hearts. What is it to give up all you have so that others may praise your name?
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
To love another person is love as the Bible lays out for us. When we are loving according to the scripture above there is no room for self-centeredness, pride, evil, or any other attitude. Love is pure and blameless when done right.
“Let all your things be done with charity.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
In the previous scripture the definition of love was laid out. Now we, as believers are called to do everything in love. Stop for a moment and think about all the things that you do not in love. How can those moments be changed to include the love of Christ?
“ Husbands, 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.” Ephesians 5:25-27
What a call to husbands. Love your wives as Christ loved the church. Husbands are being called to be servant leaders. To sacrifice for their bride, showing her worth above their own. Christ loved the church in a way that took away all her sins, He washed the church and made it blameless with His death on the cross.
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” Philippians 3:8-9
Again, we see here that sacrificing all things to know Christ is gain.
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” Hebrews 10:34
Loving and being self-sacrificing can come in many shapes and sizes but to suffer for the sake of others is hard for many of us to understand. The true understanding and belief that their suffering was worth the cost was a testament to their faith in the Lord.
Prison in Bible times often meant disease, humiliation, and shame. Even if a trial was granted that didn’t mean soon. The followers of Jesus were suffering greatly but they knew that what God had in store for them was better and that eternal life with Christ could never be confiscated.
“Let brotherly love continue.” Hebrews 13:1
Hospitality in scripture often meant providing lodging and food to trustworthy travelers. How often do we go out of our way to provide for those we don’t know? When do we sacrifice for others. We have to remember that sacrifice is different than giving. Sacrificing is to give up something of great value or worth, not simply something we don’t need or care about.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
To love is to sacrifice. To sacrifice is to give something of great value. To sacrifice is to give something of value up in order for another to benefit from it. Use your body as a sacrifice for the Lord. Go out amongst the people and be the hands and feet of Jesus. He was the perfect example of how we can live out a sacrificial life.
“ Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:7-9
One of our greatest calls is to go out and be disciples for Christ. We cannot be disciples and show Jesus if we do not love. Christ is the very definition of love, therefore if Christ is in us as we claim then so too is love.
“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
Our love, no matter how strong was never given in perfection. Jesus is perfect, Jesus is love and God sent this perfect love in human form of Jesus to be crucified on the cross; the greatest sacrifice, so that we may live in Him.
True love is the gift of Jesus sacrifice for the world on that wooden cross. Now, because we are made new in Him, we too can go and love through sacrifice for those around us. The Bible is laced with scripture, stories, examples, and definitions of sacrifice. As believers we are privileged to be invited to live a life of sacrifice for the advancement of the Kingdom and joy of the Lord.
We will never be able to live a perfectly sacrificial life, but Jesus did.
We will never understand the full weight of Jesus sacrifice on the cross, but God does.
We will never sacrifice perfectly, but God doesn’t ask us to.
He asks us to sacrifice from a place of love. He tells us that when we sacrifice it is pleasing to Him when our hearts are in the right place. The Lord has taken the time as he breathed life into scripture to teach us what sacrifice is, why it is important and how we can live it out.
I pray that as you walk away from this article today that you do so with a new understanding. An outlook on sacrifice that maybe was missing before. Mostly I pray that you feel encouraged to your own life sacrificially for the Lord. That when the moments are hard, and you don’t want to love sacrificially that you are reminded in that moment that your sacrifice is worship to the Lord. You were made for this!