You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you … the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. Leviticus 1:4, 9

The Israelites were to bring a whole animal to be burnt on the altar as a sacrifice. In this culture, meat was a luxury so to burn a whole animal was costly. To our Western worldview, this seems excessive, but probably didn’t to these Israelites who were accustomed to the elaborate pagan rituals of the nations surrounding them.

This illustrates an important point that worship involves sacrifice. David understood this and much later when Araunah offers him his threshing floor and oxen for free, David responds, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).

It’s a challenge for us today. So often we attend worship services or other church activities and believe we have worshipped, yet the cost has been trivial—a little time, a little money, a little petrol but nothing in comparison to the cost of a whole bull.

Paul tells us that our proper worship is to offer ourselves—our bodies, our lives, everything we have as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). This isn’t seen as excessive but as reasonable because of God’s mercy. If we think it’s excessive it’s because we underestimate God’s mercy towards us.

God has been so good to us, desiring us to be in relationship with him, sending his Son so reconciliation could take place and he continues to show us his favour and blessing. Anything we do for God is minor in comparison.