Today Luke Bayly brings us Part 2 of his thoughs on Sacrifice
This is the second part of my blog post about sacrifice in a life lived for God. Last week, we talked about the meaning and purpose of sacrifice by looking at a passage in the book of Romans. In this part, we’ll look at where in our lives we should expect to have to make sacrifices in order to serve God.
Sacrifice in Jesus’s life and the apostle’s lives often looked dramatic—living a life of poverty, leaving home and family to following Jesus, martyrdom—and God does, sometimes, call on Christians to make similar sacrifices to these. But recall from last week that our sacrifice is spiritual—the important stuff is going on inside our heart, whether or not it is very visible outside. God may call us to make sacrifices that no one else, aside from you and God, will even recognize as a sacrifice. Oftentimes, this simply means “doing the right thing”. Following are four categories of common situations where doing the right thing pretty much equates to making a sacrifice.
Stifling our pride
When we place our self-worth in what other people think of us instead of what God thinks of us, we are tempted to make decisions that draw attention to ourselves at the expense of others, or do things that deliberately put others down in order to save face. For example, there can be heated moments where we feel like we need to one-up our adversary in some conflict. Holding back, instead, and trying to deescalate the argument or deciding to disengage…in the moment, that requires real sacrifice. It may not be very noticed. Maybe it’ll look to others like we’ve lost and our adversary has won. But doing so is an act of love and service to God and to our adversary, and you can be sure God notices it.
This category is pretty self-explanatory. Perhaps we want to evade a punishment by hiding our wrongdoing, or perhaps we’re tempted to exploit an opportunity in a way that unfairly benefits us. To be honest and take a hit for it is an act of love and service to God and to all other people, and you can be sure God notices it.
Giving up an idol
There will always be things of this world that enthral us—things that are good, more often than not—and we want to experience more of them; invest more of our life into them. But when our love for these things conflicts with our focus on God and service to Him, they have become an idol—a false God in our life. Idols in our life will bend our hearts away from God, and always leave us emptier inside. Turning away from our idols is an act of love and service to God and to ourselves, and you can be sure God notices it.
Putting time and effort into serving God
At the risk of stating the obvious—giving of our time and energy to serve God and His kingdom, often without monetary recompense, can be taxing. Oh, and speaking of taxes, God often needs our money, too. Perhaps this seems unfair—if God is all-powerful, why on earth does He need…money? And what service can we possibly do for Him that He couldn’t do better, himself? But recall from last week that the ultimate result of all our sacrifices is that we understand more of God’s will and who God is…and that is what He wants for us. Putting time and effort into serving God is, by definition, an act of love and service to God, and you can be sure that God notices and rejoices in it.