Sacrifice of what? Sacrifice to whom? These two are the important points. Sacrifice proves the real love. Sacrifice of words, mind, intelligence, work and fruit of work are the five items. The sacrifice of the former three items is theoretical devotion which is fruitful only when it is transformed into the sacrifice of the last two items which is the practical love. You can realize this truth in your daily experience as seen in the case of your children. Theoretical love alone will not give any fruit. The theoretical knowledge and theoretical devotion are like water and fertilizer which applied to the service-tree can only give fruits through the tree and not directly. The meals should be associated with the drinking water but offering drinking water only to the guest cannot be charged. Even the hotel does not charge for it. The sacrifice of first three items is offering drinking water and the sacrifice of other two is offering meals. To prove that your bond to God is highest, you have to sacrifice the highest bond. The other bonds need not be tested. The highest bond may be Dharma, money, life, or children etc. Some have highest bond with one of these and they can sacrifice all the other bonds for the sake of that particular highest bond. In such case God competes with that highest bond only to know whether He is higher than your highest. People are saying that God is highest for them. Some say this with ignorance and some tell this knowing that it is not true. In both cases, God proves the truth through the test (Datta Pariksha). God knows the truth but the revelation of truth is for your sake and not for His sake. If you realize the truth, you will try to succeed in the next examination by doing the spiritual effort. Otherwise, you are expecting God to believe whatever you say and react accordingly. All the prayers to God are utterances of lies only and all the worships are the trials to fool God.
Generally the word sacrifice is used in the sense of sacrificing the fruit of work (money or wealth) and service means the sacrifice of work. The saints are not having any wealth because they have dedicated themselves in the service of the Lord. Therefore sacrifice of fruit of work does not apply to their case. Hanuman is a bachelor-saint and so can only do the sacrifice of work. The requirement of the Lord is also very important. To get back Sita, the Lord required only sacrifice of work and the other sacrifice was not required. Krishna was a young boy in Brindavanam and does not require the sacrifice of work because His mission has not started. Gopikas were householders and women who cannot sacrifice the work like Hanuman in a war against injustice. They sacrificed their wealth (Butter) because the boy also requires good food to grow well. The requirement was for the sacrifice of the fruit of the work. Butter was the fruit of their tedious work. When the war against injustice came, the Lord required the sacrifice of work from Arjuna just like from Hanuman. Rama required the service in His personal work whereas Krishna required the service in the work of the devotees (Pandavas). If you take Shankara, the Lord required the service of the four disciples in propagation of knowledge for the welfare of the society.
Similarly Ramanuja and Madhva required the service of the disciples in the propagation of devotion and divine service. Therefore the Lord may sometimes require your service in His personal work or your service in the personal work of a devotee or in the welfare of society. The Lord knows what to do when. His decision is always the best. You should not analyze the Lord because He is beyond logic. Once you have recognized the God, the logic should be dropped. The logic is only used to reject the non-God items posing as God. Logic is very much required in this line. However, once the confirmation was over with the help of logic, you should serve Him with blind faith. You can use the logic for identifying the Lord and the logic is useful here to filter the pseudo human incarnations. The fruit of work (money) is only another form of work. When you work, you get some money as the fruit. When you sacrifice that fruit, it means you have done that work. Alternatively, when you have done that work to the Lord, you have sacrificed the fruit of work. Work is a form of energy. Matter (money) is also a form of energy.
Therefore work and money are one and the same even in the light of the inter conversion of matter and energy as proved in science. One can do any one of these two or both according to his convenience and according to the extent of his devotion. The devotion should not be due to fear from hell expecting the Lord to protect them there. The devotion should not be also for any fruit in return. When there is no aspiration for any fruit and when there is no desire for protection here or there, such devotion is real. Shankara says that the devotion and service should not aspire any fruit here as well as there (ihaamutra phala viragah).
His Holiness Shri Datta Swami