Quotes on Sacrifice

See also: Abraham 1:12-20 

The principle of sacrifice should be taught in every Latter-day Saint home and should be practiced in many simple yet important ways.  We can do this by setting an example of reverence that will bring the true spirit of worship into our meetings and by guarding against murmuring and complaining about the challenges of the Sunday worship schedule.  We can contribute a generous fast offering, find joy in supporting missionaries, and pay an honest tithing.  We can accept Church callings and serve with a happy and grateful heart, do temple work regularly, offer family and personal daily prayers, and teach one another each week in well-planned family home evenings.  Both younger members and those who are older can prepare early and make themselves worthy to accept calls to serve as missionaries.  We all can be good neighbors and can take care of widows, the poor, and the less fortunate.  We can reach out to others in our service as home and visiting teachers.  Brethren, we must be clean and worthy to bless others with the priesthood we hold.

Today we are not called to pull handcarts through the snow-swept plains of Wyoming.  However, we are called to live, foster, and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is our privilege to invest our means and our time to bless others.  Each one of us must do all we can to preserve our Latter-day Saint way of life.  A vital part of this preservation is a willingness to set aside personal desires and replace them with  unselfish sacrifice for others. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, May 1992, p. 77

How hard it must have been [for the Mormon pioneers] to leave comfortable homes and businesses for the bed of a covered wagon.  How difficult it was to eke out an existence along dusty trails, or try to maintain any semblance of ordinary life in a tent blown down by prairie winds or wintry gales.

But they did it!  Their sacrifices were sanctified by the Lord and though many perished along the way, the bulk of the Saints reached their promised valley and established Zion in the tops of the mountains.  Today that Zion has grown until it reaches outward to all the world.

If there is a theme for us from those pioneer days it would be the need to continue to sacrifice all we have in behalf of the Kingdom of God.

Our sacrifices are not made behind oxen teams in covered wagons, or in pulling handcarts, or walking prairie trails with worn-out shoes.

Our sacrifices are to keep the world and its pleasures from dominating our lives and restraining us from spiritual growth.  We are to pay our tithes and offerings faithfully.  We are to serve in the temples regularly.  We are to rear our children in light and truth.  We are to keep the Sabbath as a holy day in spite of the pressures of the world to make it just another day of the “weekend.”  We are to teach the gospel to others with a spirit of love and concern for their well-being.  We are to put off the “natural man” and become saints, as King Benjamin counseled.  (See Mosiah 3:19.)  We are to place “self” behind “others,” and “thy will” ahead of “my will.”

The Prophet continued:  “Those, then, who make the sacrifice, will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God; and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled, through faith, to endure to the end, and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (See Lectures on Faith, No. 6.)  Such a perspective of sacrifice certainly enabled the Mormon pioneers to give their all for the kingdom. — Church News, July 23, 1994, p. 16

President Gordon B. Hinckley related “something of a parable” during the Church’s Christmas Devotional in 1994.  He told the story of a one room school house in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough no teacher had been able to handle them.

Then one day an inexperienced young teacher applied.  He was told that every teacher had received an awful beating, but the teacher accepted the risk.  The first day of school the teacher asked the boys to establish their own rules and the penalty for breaking the rules.  The class came up with 10 rules which were written on the blackboard.  Then the teacher asked, “What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?”

“Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on,” came the response.

A day or so later, the lunch of a big student, named Tom, was stolen.  The thief was located – a little hungry fellow, about ten years old.

As Little Jim came up to take his licking, he pleaded to keep his coat on.  “Take your coat off,” the teacher said.  “You helped make the rules.”

The boy took off the coat.  He had no shirt and revealed a bony little crippled body.  As the teacher hesitated with the rod, Big Tom jumped to his feet and volunteered to take the boy’s licking.

“Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another.  Are you all agreed?” the teacher asked.

After five strokes across Tom’s back, the rod broke.  The class was sobbing.  Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck.  “Tom, I’m sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry.  Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me!  Yes, I will love you forever!”

President Hinckley then quoted Isaiah:  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrow. . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.   (See Isaiah 53:4-5.) — Church News, December 10, 1994, p.4

The law of sacrifice is that we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for the truth’s sake – our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, lands, and families; all things, even our very lives if need be.

Joseph Smith said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life and salvation.”  (Lectures on Faith, p. 58.) Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “Obedience, Consecration and Sacrifice,” General Conference, April 1975

Sacrifice is giving up something good for something better. . . . Sacrifice is the common denominator of greatness. . . . What am I willing to sacrifice for what I want to become? — Excerpts from Hyrum Smith’s, “Taking Control of Your Life.”

The Savior gave of Himself, gave His very life that we might live.  To sacrifice that others might be blessed was His word, His work, His life.  Sacrifice is the evidence of true love.  Without sacrifice love is not manifest.  Without sacrifice there is no real love, or kindness. . . . We love no one unless we sacrifice for him.  We can measure the degree of love that we possess for any man or cause, by the sacrifice we make for him or it. — Elder John A. Widtsoe, Conference Report, April 1943, p. 38

Now, you Elders who understand the principles of the kingdom of God, what would you not give, do, or sacrifice, to assist in building up His kingdom upon the earth?  Says one, “I would do anything in my power, anything that the Lord would help me to do, to build up His kingdom.”  Says another, “I would sacrifice all my property.”  Wonderful indeed!  Do you not know that the possession of your property is like a shadow, or the dew of the morning before the noon-day sun, that you cannot have any assurance of its control for a single moment!  It is the unseen hand of Providence that controls it.  In short, what would you sacrifice?  The Saints sacrifice everything; but, strictly speaking, there is no sacrifice about it.  If you give a penny for a million of gold! a handful of earth for a planet! a temporary worn out tenement for one glorified, that will exist, abide, and continue to increase throughout a never ending eternity, what a sacrifice to be sure! — Brigham Young, February 27, 1853; see Journal of Discourses 1:114-115

Sacrifice comes in many forms and may not always be convenient.  Latter-day Saints make a covenant with the Lord to sacrifice.  By doing so, we surrender our will to His, dedicating our lives to building up His kingdom and serving His children. . . . Our challenge is to unselfishly sacrifice all that we have been given, including our will.  Elder Maxwell rightly said:  “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar.  The many other things we ‘give’… are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. — Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, “Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven,” Ensign, November 2002, pp. 33, 34

The Prophet Joseph Smith once said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”  He continues, “Those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith.”  (Lectures on Faith, 1985], pp. 69-70) . . . .

The work of God is moving forward in many parts of the world like it never has before, particularly in countries where the economic standards are not high and new members are still learning the principle of faith and how it relates to blessings.  To be faithful members of this Church requires sacrifice and consecration.  It means that worldly pleasures and earthly possessions should not be our principal aim in life, because the gift of eternal life requires a willingness to sacrifice all we have and are in order to obtain it. –Elder James E. Faust, “Opening the Windows of Heaven,” Ensign, November 1998, p. 60

The great law for spiritual happiness and progress was stated by the Master in these words:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” — Matt. 16:24-25

Opportunities to lose oneself for the good of others present themselves daily: the mother who serves her children’s needs; the father who gives his time for their instruction; parents who give up worldly pleasure for quality home life; children who care for their aged parents; home teaching service; visiting teaching; time for compassionate service; giving comfort to those who need strength; serving with diligence in Church callings; community and public service in the interest of preserving our freedoms; financial donations for tithes, fast offerings, support of missionaries, welfare, building and temple projects.  Truly, the day of sacrifice is not past. — President Ezra Taft Benson, “This Is a Day of Sacrifice,” Ensign, May 1979, p. 34

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

“For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor, and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also – counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ – requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God. . . . (Lectures on Faith, 68-70). Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 30

Although the Law of Moses was fulfilled, the principles of the law of sacrifice continue to be a part of the doctrine of the Church.

While the primary purpose of the law of sacrifice continued to be that of testing and assisting us to come unto Christ, two adjustments were made after Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.  First, the ordinance of the sacrament replaced the ordinance of [animal] sacrifice; and second, this change moved the focus of the sacrifice from a person’s animal to the person himself.  In a sense, the sacrifice changed from the offering to the offerer. . . .

. . . After his mortal ministry, Christ elevated the law of sacrifice to a new level. . . . Instead of the Lord requiring a person’s animal or grain, now the Lord wants us to give up all that is ungodly.  This is a higher practice of the law of sacrifice; it reaches into the inner soul of a person. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, “The Law of Sacrifice,” Church Educational System Symposium, August 13, 1996, p. 5

We must lay on the altar and sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord.  We begin by offering a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.”  We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and callings.  We learn our duty and execute it fully.  Finally we consecrate our time, talents and means as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit.  In the Church, as in the Welfare system also, we can give expression to every ability, every righteous desire, every thoughtful impulse.  Whether a volunteer, father, home teacher, bishop, or neighbor, whether a visiting teacher, mother, homemaker, or friend – there is ample opportunity to give our all.  And as we give, we find that “sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!”  (Hymns, no. 147)  And in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all.

My brothers and sisters, if we can do this, then we will find ourselves clothed in the mantle of charity “which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail –

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”  (Moro. 7:46–47) — President Spencer W. Kimball, “Becoming the Pure in Heart,” Ensign, May 1978, p. 79

When the time comes for you to sacrifice for that which you believe, will you have the faith to make that sacrifice?  Have you made the commitment to do anything the Lord asks, and are you disciplined enough to fulfill that commitment, even at a time that may not be particularly opportune or pleasant?  I would encourage each of you to promise the Lord, now, that you will do as he or his messengers ask.  The sacrifice may be great; the sacrifice may be small.  But may you all have the strength and integrity to act on your faith, so that you may one day appear before the Lord blameless, knowing that you did everything in your power to prove your commitment. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, “The Power of Commitment,” New Era, November 1989, p. 4

So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord . . . of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving “away all [our] sins” in order to “know God” (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,” Ensign, May 1995, p. 66

In striving for ultimate submission, our wills constitute all we really have to give God anyway.  The usual gifts and their derivatives we give to him could be stamped justifiably “Return to Sender,” with a capital S.  Even when God receives this one gift in return, the fully faithful will receive “all that [He] hath.”  (D&C 84:38)  What an exchange rate! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, May 2002, p. 36

For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor, and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also – counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ – requires more than mere belief or  supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God. — Joseph Smith, Jr., Lectures on Faith, comp. N. B. Lundwall, p. 58

I want to impress upon your hearts . . . that you can make no sacrifice but what sooner or later the reward will come to you, either in time or in eternity, and almost without exception when we make any sacrifices in the line of duty in performing those things that are pleasing in the sight of God, we get our reward during our lives. Teachings of the Prophets: Heber J. Grant

Here comes the command of God to this man [Abraham] who has been taught so scrupulously about the sinfulness of murder and human sacrifice, to do these very things. Now, why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham?

Because, knowing what his future would be and that he would be the father of an innumerable posterity, he was determined to test him.  God did not do this for His own sake; for He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do [Abr. 1:22-23] ; but the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson, and to enable him to attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way.

That is why God tries all of us.  It is not for His own knowledge for He knows all things beforehand.  He knows all your lives and everything you will do.  But He tries us for our own good, that we may know ourselves, for it is most important that a man should know himself.  He required Abraham to submit to this trial because he intended to give him glory, exaltation and honor; He intended to make him a king and a priest, to share with Himself the glory, power and dominion which He exercised. — President George Q. Cannon, Conference Report, April 1899

We are not always called upon to live the whole law of consecration and give of all our time, talents, and means to the building up of the Lord’s earthly kingdom.  Few of us are called upon to sacrifice much of what we possess, and at the moment there is only an occasional martyr in the cause of revealed religion.  But what the scriptural account means is that to gain celestial salvation we must be able to live these laws to the full if we are called upon to do so.  Implicit in this is the reality that we must in fact live them to the extent we are called upon so to do. . . . — Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1975, p. 76

This gospel we have received is one of sacrifice, service and self-abnegation from beginning to end.  That is what constitutes the straight and narrow way that leads to life eternal.  Some of us are more faithful, some are less faithful than others in our sacrifices. My brethren and sisters, there will come a time of accounting, and we will he judged and rewarded according to the sacrifices which we make, and the services we render to God and to our fellowmen.  Let me tell you here that when we undertake to glorify our Father in heaven by living a good life, we help others along the way.  Religion, true religion of the Master, is so different from politics.  When we aspire to an office as politicians, and become candidates, our only hope of success is in the defeat and disappointment of somebody else.  In this great work, if I, through the help of the Lord, shall be successful in saving my own soul, it will be through works of righteousness, through a good example which will be helpful, and no person will be deprived of the blessings he is laboring for because of my success, but just the reverse, he will be helped along the way.  Now in this work of sacrifice and of service, we need encouragement, and stimulation. — Elder George F. Richards, General Conference, October 1920

I want to impress upon your hearts . . . that you can make no sacrifice but what sooner or later the reward will come to you, either in time or in eternity, and almost without exception when we make any sacrifices in the line of duty in performing those things that are pleasing in the sight of God, we get our reward during our lives. Teachings of the Prophets: Heber J. Grant

Since patience is one of the traits of a saint (see Mosiah 3:19), it should not surprise us that we must sometimes learn patience not only by physical suffering, but also by sometimes having something to offer which, for one reason or another, we are prevented from offering, at least on the terms we would like to make the contribution.  To trust God enough to accept the reality that he knows perfectly both what we have to offer and what we desire is a special form of trust.  After all, when we sing in the hymn, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord” (Hymns, no. 75), presumably our pledge includes a willingness to stay right where we are, if that is where the Lord wants us. 

Sometimes when we think we see what is needed (and feel that we can offer just what is needed), we must still surrender to the sublime wisdom of our Heavenly Father, who “knoweth all things.”  (1 Jn. 3:20)  Sometimes we are tested, therefore, not only by the requirement that we place certain things on the altar of sacrifice and service, but also by the trial of circumstances that seem to prevent us from placing a portion of self on the altar. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, July 1975

[Regarding the building of the Sacramento Temple:]   Saying that the temple could be built with tithing funds, President Hinckley nevertheless invited members who wish to contribute to its construction.  He told of the response in Monticello, Utah, when it was announced that a temple would be built there.  He said Indian children living on a nearby reservation donated a fruit jar full of pennies.  An eight-year-old boy gave $100 he had earned.  A well-to-do man donated a million dollars.

“Each contribution was equally acceptable, and each represented a comparable measure of sacrifice on the part of the donor,” he said. — “A joyous day in Sacramento,” Church News, August 28, 2004, p. 3