Viewpoint: Sincere Sacrifice Helps Us to Know God

  • 11 June 2017

Through sacrifice we can know, as it says in Doctrine and Covenants 97:8, that our lives and our service are acceptable to God.

Article Highlights

  • By offering our “whole souls” unto God, we can feel His approval.
  • If we draw near to God, our souls will be sustained through our trials.

“What greater honor could there be than that God would say to you, ‘My beloved son’ or ‘My beloved daughter,’ and that you would receive His commendation that your offering is acceptable to Him, ‘in whom I am well pleased.’” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Soon after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, the Lord gave them the law of sacrifice, which included offering the firstlings of their flocks, an animal without blemish, as a reminder of the sacrifice that would be made by Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of the Father (see Moses 5:4–8).

Christ’s atoning sacrifice marked the end of sacrifices by the shedding of blood.

Today we live the law of sacrifice in other ways. Following His Resurrection, the Savior taught: “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” (3 Nephi 9:19–20).

The Apostle Paul taught, “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).

In the Book of Mormon, Amaleki similarly entreated his brethren to offer their “whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26).

Divine commendation

Latter-day Saints strive to offer their “whole souls” and to fully live the law of sacrifice in many ways. They do it by making repentance a part of their lives, by faithfully paying tithing and other financial offerings, by making time to do family history work and attend the temple, or by accepting and fulfilling a Church calling or other assignment. Some sacrifice as they suffer persecution, ridicule, or tribulation for the gospel.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted that the offering of service and the sacrifices of Latter-day Saints is a “consecrated, sacred thing. I don’t believe there’s a higher honor that can come to us than that the Lord would consider our offering as worthy and appropriate and that He would respect and receive it.”

The great commendation of Heavenly Father to Jesus Christ, Elder Christofferson continued, is when He refers to Him as “my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (3 Nephi 11:7; see also Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 9:35; D&C 93:15; Joseph Smith—History 1:17).

“What a beautiful title,” Elder Christofferson said. “What greater honor could there be than that God would say to you, ‘My beloved son’ or ‘My beloved daughter,’ and that you would receive His commendation that your offering is acceptable to Him, ‘in whom I am well pleased’” (“Be at Peace,” Ensign, Dec. 2015).

A Latter-day Saint woman desired such divine approbation recently after completing a Church assignment for which she felt woefully unqualified, both in experience and skill. Despite many doubts in her own abilities, she had accepted the assignment, exercising faith that the Lord would bless her and magnify her efforts. Throughout the assignment, she sought the guidance of the Lord frequently through prayer and fasting and counseled with her priesthood leaders. When she was afraid or felt crippled by the weight of her responsibilities, she would offer a heartfelt plea to Heavenly Father and then press forward as best she could, one decision at a time.

Finally, as the assignment drew to a close, she looked back upon her service. On the one hand, she felt intense gratitude. She could clearly see the times the Lord had strengthened her, uplifted her, and enlarged her abilities beyond her normal capacity.

At the same time, however, she could also clearly see her weaknesses and how her ignorance and biases had prevented her from serving more effectively. And the more she focused on her mistakes, the bigger they seemed. She felt grieved by the thought that, despite her best efforts, someone else would have done better and that the individuals that she had attempted to serve deserved so much better than her flawed contributions. In her heart, she worried if, as mentioned by Elder Christofferson, her “offering” was acceptable to God.

Drawing near unto God through service

Later in his talk, Elder Christofferson recalled the experience of Bishop Desmond Tutu, an Anglican archbishop in South Africa. An interviewer asked Bishop Tutu, “Have you found that your relationship to God has changed as you’ve grown older?”

Bishop Tutu paused and responded, “Yes. I am learning to shut up more in the presence of God.”

The bishop then explained that in earlier years he would approach heaven with a “shopping list” of requests and solicitudes. Now, however, “I think [I am] trying to grow in just being there. Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter, you are just there in front of the fire, and you don’t have to be smart or anything. The fire warms you.”

“I think that is a lovely metaphor,” Elder Christofferson commented. “Just sit with the Lord and let Him warm you like a fire in winter. You don’t have to be perfect or the greatest person who ever graced the earth or the best of anything to be with Him.”

The woman in the above story let the Savior’s Spirit “warm” her one day as she sat quietly reflecting in the temple. She asked Heavenly Father if He was pleased with her service, flawed as it was. Tears filled her eyes as she experienced a sweet assurance that her offering was accepted. Following that experience, she felt filled with love for her Heavenly Father, strengthened spiritually, and more qualified to serve in the future.

Through sacrifice, we can know, as it says in Doctrine and Covenants 97:8, that our lives and our service are acceptable to Him. “Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.”