It’s not a popular word or concept. It’s associated with pain and displeasure.It implies tears, sweat, and blood. It scares us.
It’s what God wants from me. Sacrifice.
During the two weeks I spent at Bible school this month, God laid this word on my heart. One day as I took special time to pray and read the Bible, I realized that I had a lot to learn about sacrifice in my life.
God calls for it throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, it was literal burnt animals that God required for the remission of sins. While (thank God!) we don’t need to slaughter little lambs anymore in order to be forgiven, God still asks us to sacrifice.
The most important sacrifice we’ll ever make is, of course, the offer of our heart and life to Jesus at our conversion. We surrender our everything to Him. We promise God that his way is our way from the moment on. We resolve to follow his commands and do whatever it takes to please and glorify him.
And that’s it, right? We are perfect, self-denied, never-thinking-of-sinning Christians. We live happily ever ever.
If that’s your life, well, then good for you, I guess. But I’m sure most of us would agree that becoming a Christian didn’t turn us into little God-pleasing robots. In fact, to the contrary, I’ve found that surrender doesn’t end at conversion. It starts there.
There’s countless ways God invites us to sacrifice during our walk with him. At some point, he may reveal to us chains that have entangled us. These chains may be ungodly music, bad habits, sinful thinking patterns. Whatever the case, sacrificing them is a pain. That’s the thing about sacrifice- it always costs us. But in order to worship God more freely or to make godly decisions soberly, we need to learn to sacrifice.
God may also call us to the sacrifice of fasting. Whether it’s abstaining from food, music, social media, or something entirely different yet, we give up something pleasurable for the sole purpose of having a deeper connection with God.
We are also called to make daily sacrifices. Often they’re relatively small. It’s playing a five-minute game with a child instead of reading your captivating novel. It means initiating a conversation with a lonely person in your youth group instead of chatting with your normal gang of friends. It’s reading a chapter or two in your Bible instead of watching the latest episode of your favorite show.It’s giving the money you’d set aside for some little extra to a disaster relief. It’s a million little things that cost us something. They cost us pride, time, money, or recognition.
In the Old Testament when the Jews brought lambs to be sacrificed, God didn’t accept any old or frail animal that had long since seen its best days. He asked for perfection. It cost the Jews. They gave their best- a sheep that would’ve made a fine addition to their flocks. In the same way, today God doesn’t want our spare time, our pocket change, our leftovers. He wants our prime. He demands perfection. To quote John Green “That’s the thing about pain [or sacrifice]. It demands to be felt.”
Now, you might be getting a morbid dark feeling about the whole idea of sacrifice. I want to assure you that’s not true. Yes, it’s painful, but it’s also beautiful.
God is with us every step of the way. In the first verses of Isaiah 43, God promises “You are mine. I will be with you. Fear not, you are mine… The rivers will not pass over you.. The fire won’t burn you. You are precious and honored in my sight.. I love you.” [Paraphases and quotes from Isaiah 43:1-4 NLT]
What is more awesome than that? To walk through the highs and lows of sacrifice with an all-loving, omnipotent God holding us, cheering us on every step of the way? Sacrifice is hard, but it’s worth it. Trust me. 🙂
Also, if you make a sacrifice for something, you appreciate it more. So it’s basically a win-win. ☺
P.S. Feel free to share your insights about personal sacrifice. It’s as easy as clicking the comment option. All you need to do is add your name and email address (which won’t be published). 🙂 Thanks for reading!