Vine’s: “primarily denotes the act of offering; then, objectively, that which is offered.”
Thayer’s: “a sacrifice, victim.”
We basically know the idea of what a sacrifice is. In the Old Testament pagans and the priests of God offered sacrifices. They were usually animals and offered in an attempt to honor, worship, or in some way invoke the blessings of the one in which they believed.
The first sacrifice recorded in the Bible was that of Cain. He made an offering to God that was not accepted (Gen. 4:3-8). His brother Abel also offered a sacrifice to God, which was received and is an example for all eternity (Heb. 11:4). We will not elaborate on why one was accepted and the other rejected, suffice it to say that Abel did what God commanded, Cain did not. However, we do want to make the point that from the beginning God has desired and commanded men to offer sacrifices.
Inherent in the meaning of sacrifice is that which costs something. It must truly make a difference in our lives, if not, can it really be a “sacrifice”? David said he would not make an offering to God of that which cost him nothing (2 Sam. 24:24).
In the New Testament we are commanded to offer ourselves as sacrifices. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). We do not offer dead sacrifices, animals on an altar. We offer living ones. We give ourselves to God; specifically our bodies.
Those bought by the blood of Christ belong to Him completely. Not only were our souls purchased, but also our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20). Thus, it is our duty to use our bodies in His service.
How does this happen? How can we offer our bodies in service to God? Some things may be obvious. Attend services. Go to Bible classes. Visit the lost, aged, and sick. What it really boils down to, though, is time. Anything we do with our bodies is going to take time. Attending services and Bible classes is not physically strenuous for the great majority of us. Visiting the lost and aged does not require a great deal of exertion. So, there is little physical sacrifice involved in these things. The sacrifice we make in these is time. It is a finite resource. It cannot be replenished. Once it is gone, it is gone for good.
Sacrifice your time for God. Go to services, attend Bible classes, see after the sick and aged, teach the lost, study your Bible and pray alone and with your family. Do not offer to the Lord that which cost you nothing.