Leviticus 1:3-9 “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
We’ve all experienced it.
Mom is cooking the London broil or the meatloaf and has to run after a toddler, then break up a fight, then answer the phone, apply bandaids, get batteries for the gaming controller and before you know it the pleasing aroma of dinner turns into the the unpleasant smell of burnt flesh.
We’ve all been to, or hosted, the BBQ where the host is flipping burgers, but has to step away to get more ice, then clean up purple soda on the carpet and fill the chip bowl and when he returns to the grill, his beautiful burgers are all hockey pucks that fill the air with the putrid smell of char.
No one likes the smell of burned meat. But in the passage read for us this morning, the whole burnt offering is a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
Why? Because its whole. There is no part of the animal left out. And the Animal is a representative of the worshiper. The sinner laid hands on the animal transferring sin and appointing a representative. That representative is fully, bodily, offered up to the Lord.
Self-sacrifice stinks. When you’re hosting a family into your home, there is a lot of sacrifice. You have to clean and you have spend money. My kids think one of the stupidest things we do is vacuum before people come over and then vacuum again after they leave. To children, this is utter torture.
But some of you have experienced my house without the false pretenses. You’ve seen it in its natural state. And that’s humbling in a different way. You’ve caught us without the time to even straighten up. But sometimes it’s more important to have open doors than clean floors.
Sacrifice stinks – just like that burned London broil and those hockey pucks – just like that whole animal sacrifice.
But to the Lord its a pleasant aroma. Nothing was withheld. The worshiper gave everything. There was no outward show while they grumbled in their heart. They offered up themselves without reserve, without holding back.
This is the aim of the Christian life.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Because Christ is our example.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But it stinks because sacrifice stinks to our selfish and weary nostrils. Who is sufficient for these things?
When work and family leave us with nothing but margins to offer, we must offer up those margins without holding back.
And has we offer those margins to one another, don’t judge the pile of laundry on the couch or the crumbs under the table. Its more important to have open doors than clean floors.
Fellowship and community are too precious a thing and too important to all of our spiritual growth, to fret about how small our homes are or how lowly or how messy.
Lay yourself, your whole self, on the alter. Don’t hold back. It stinks to us, but it’s a pleasant aroma to the LORD – focus on that. Seeking to please Him is our strength.
The joy of the Lord is our strength – sacrifice will cease to stink and you will, by your sacrifice, catch a whiff of heaven.