Sacrifice. No matter how the word is dissected, it means one thing and one thing only, to give more, more than what is required or asked for. There are those that sacrifice their time, giving over and above to their job, their loved one’s need’s, or in community service. Others give sacrificially of their finances, showing care and concern for the needs of the poor, the infirmed, or even to animal rights causes. The world likes to lift up these individuals, calling them caring and concerned, even hero’s in some cases, and in the view of the world I can understand their examples, for it is not in their nature to do so. But we are concerned here of those who call themselves Christians, those who believe that it is not only their duty but a great privilege to serve the Lord our God with the sacrifices of our lives.
We are told quite clearly in Scripture that we are not to seek thanks from God when we do what we have ben commanded to do, in fact, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. (Luke 17:10) A sacrifice is something we do of our own free will above and beyond what God has set upon us as our duty, we give sacrificially of ourselves out of the love that we have for Him. It pains me to say this, but it seems that many times this love do not seem to leave the church building, seemingly regulated to the brethren inside of the congregation, and in many cases is only rudimentary at best. In other words, as long as it does not inconvenience us, we will give of ourselves, but as for a sacrifice in our time, money, talents and gifts, it at times seems to require an almost prodding, a persuading as it were, instead of a desire on the individuals part to act before being asked.
The sacrifices that should flow from our hearts towards not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but to the unsaved, will at times flow over into the material world, but will “lay up treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20) for those who seek the eternal and not the temporal, for all treasures here will fade.
One of the most recognizable ways that we are blessed to be able to show this sacrificial love is with our finances. I will not debate whether New Testament believers are to tithe or not, but if you do, do you grab the calculator each payday and write out a check for exactly ten percent. Praise God if you give, but to give sacrificially means to give when it hurts to do so, when something you want will have to be denied from yourself, or even from someone you love. To give an example, a few weeks ago my wife and I were headed to the store to pick up a few items and along the side of the road in an empty parking lot was a couple with their two small children standing beside an older vehicle with a sign asking folks for gas money so they could get back home. Now, this is not an uncommon site, so we kept going, fulfilled the task we had set for ourselves, then headed back to the house, but the couple was still there. I drove a block or two past them before I asked my wife how much money we had left from our little trip, and she informed me about thirty dollars. I turned around and as we handed them the money and a small Christian tract, it came into my mind if I had really fulfilled what I am writing about here, had we given sacrificially. I truly cannot recall what we purchased for ourselves that day, generally before we give, we try to use wise spiritual discernment, for there are many that truly do not need what they think they need, but I believe I failed this time, and it aches my heart when this instance comes to my mind. Our heavenly Father has promised to supply all of our needs according to His riches in heaven (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25) and He does this time and again to His obedient servants.
Sometimes the needs of another are greater than our wants.
Your Father in heaven knows everything you need, and sometimes He allows your heart to overflow with a sacrificial care for someone so that He can flow incredible blessings from His heart to ours. Think on the woman with the two pennies, (Mark 12: 41-44) did she give hoping to receive, thinking that if she gave all God would smile upon her and bless her in worldly things, or did she give sacrificially, hoping for nothing in return, honoring her Great and Glorious Lord no matter the circumstances He chose for her life.
To sacrifice is selflessness, a desire to see and show the love of God’s blessings on another without any thought of a return on our investments here on earth, and to be used by God to achieve His glory while we are here our only desire. Think of those in Matthew 25:44, when those that He loves says to Him, when did we see you hungry, and our Lord’s response was that we gave to those who are around us every day.
It is one thing to give financially, it is quite another to give of our time, for many of us are very busy, and time cannot be replaced, it is a coin once spent that can never be restored again. There are so many ways that loving Christians use their time to glorify God, but what I am speaking here of is the inconvenient times, the unplanned phone call that comes when we are right in the middle of something, the “Knock on the door that asks for bread” (Luke 11:1-13), the unplanned need of another. There is much wise discernment that must be applied in all of these types of scenarios, for many times these loving brothers and sisters in Christ become unwitting enablers, unwilling to see the truth behind the circumstances that have unraveled this individuals life choices. I am sure some of you reading this have been in this predicament, hearing from one you have previously helped say “I thought you were a Christian” as they again and again seek your assistance, never desiring to stand on their own two feet as it were. It can be more than difficult to watch as this person continues in a life displeasing to God, and harmful to themselves, but for each of us who love with the love of God knows, love can sometimes hurt.
Sometimes, and I know full well that this can be very difficult for some to understand, we must distance ourselves from these individuals and give them wholly and completely over to the Lord’s care, or we will go far beyond being sacrificial and end up, as it were, the sacrifice and for the wrong ends though with the right desires, and my friends, there has only been one sacrifice that mattered.
Those who have been forgiven much, love much. There is a love that goes beyond measure and that love does not come from us, but flows through us to others, and should to all we meet, a love by God’s great mercy that allows us to show a Holy God’s love to the world. Sometimes to give sacrificially is to give all, for “They loved not their lives to the death” (Rev. 12:11), other times, as for husbands whose loving wife is above all and everything save for God, a willing sacrificial life for her is a great privilege and honor. The closest the world can come to this knowledge is what they like to call “the golden rule”, yet it is broken by them on a constant level, but do not blame them, for these things are spiritually discerned, and it is impossible for the natural man to understand.
But for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, this “rule” cannot be broken if we desire to have the sacrificial character of Christ in our lives and our walk with Him. If we always “do unto others…” (Luke 6:31) then a true life of sacrifice for His glory will be our daily walk, we will be doing it because we love Him who first loved us. A life spent in giving of oneself for others because of the one who gave His only begotten Son for us, for the one who willingly laid down His life on the cross for all of us, is a life well spent, and a sacrifice our loving Father in heaven will smile upon.