Monday, March 14, 2011

Find Your Purpose: Sacrifice

Sacrifice. Big word, big meaning, even bigger neglect. It can be defined as: Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

In everyday language it means giving until it hurts. This can mean giving of your time, your emotions, your energy, your resources, your friendship, or your abilities for something you believe. 

The greatest act of sacrifice ever seen was on the cross almost 2000 years ago when Jesus, the Son of God, sacrificed himself to set right what man had broken. 

He even said "Father, forgive them..." Here was the eternal Son of God, bleeding, suffering, and dying for a creation that had rejected him and yet he could say the words, "Father, forgive them." Why? Because Jesus was sacrificing himself for us. As a sacrifice, his life was spent for those who hated him. Jesus knew he was getting no benefit from this sacrifice. It was entirely for our benefit. 

You see, that is what sacrifice is. It is enduring pain and struggle for the benefit of another. It is voluntarily giving to the point of pain so someone else can experience the benefit. Jesus died on the cross so we could have a relationship with God. He already had a perfect relationship with the Father. He didn't need anything for himself. It was humanity that needed a Savior. So, Jesus offered himself, perfect in every way, as a sacrifice for our failings. 

And so we also become a people of sacrifice. We learn to give of ourselves. We learn to sacrifice. We learn to give until it hurts. Sacrifice for others, even those who hate us, should become a way of life for those who believe in Jesus Christ. We give in service, love, finances, talents, support, and even encouragement. We learn to see what others need and give of ourselves to help them. 

Even when they hate us. 

That is what makes it a sacrifice. We have to endure something we do not deserve for the sake of someone who does not deserve what we are giving. 

And we do it with Love. 

We do not do it to earn points with them, with God, or even to feed selfish pride. We sacrifice because we see the right thing to do and we are children of God who understand that it took the greatest sacrifice in the history of creation to make us children of God. 

So we sacrifice. 

Unfortunately too many of us have bought into American consumerism and we expect some kind of immediate return on our "righteous" deeds. We see ourselves as God's employees complete with a heavenly 401k retirement plan, benefits, and collective bargaining rights. We have confused God's call to die and sacrifice with a self-serving gospel of health and wealth. 

And the idea of true sacrifice is completely lost. We only serve in our church as long as it is convenient and doesn't interfere with my time on the golf course. We choose a church based on what they can provide me instead of seeing where my gifts and talents could be used to help others. We get it backwards. 

When we get it backwards, we lose touch with everything that God intended and our lives become no different than the great throng of people who live only to please themselves. This is why Jesus said some of the most frightening words in all of Scripture in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 

Many who never learned the true meaning of sacrifice and obedience will try to cash in their heavenly 401k retirement plan only to find out that their investment tanked because they invested in themselves and not in the God who sent His Son as a Sacrifice. Think today about your concept of sacrifice and obedience to God and rise Above Reality. 

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