Today at 1:30, I’ll be teaching this in Elder’s Quorum. Last week, Elder Ballard taught us in Regional Conference to not “over complicate” the Gospel. I’m trying.
Defining Sacrifice in LDS theology
Sacrifice can and has meant a variety of different things. The definition I like the best in the context of LDS theology comes from our concise little manual “True to the Faith” published in 2004. It says, “To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal”. In a way, this definition is very similar to the use of the term in the game of Chess, where the pawn may sacrifice itself for the benefit of the entirety of the team. The pawn is killed for a greater purpose, but does not necessarily receive any direct benefit for itself. I sometimes hear people say sacrifice is giving up something good now for something better later. Thus we end up with sacrifice sounding like investing in a 401k plan. This doesn’t ring true to me. While it may be true that we give something up for something of higher value, the “something of higher value” may not directly have benefit for ourselves, and does not necessitate that benefit. The manual asks, “Why is it important to sacrifice as the Lord asks without expecting anything in return?” I think it is because the greater purpose or goal we are to give up is greater than ourselves. It is the glory of God and all mankind. Anyway, I think this concept of sacrifice as giving up for a greater good is useful as we think about religious sacrifice before Christ, of Christ, and in our lives as Christians.