On a recent trip to California to visit my Mom, I was privileged to attend New Life Community Church, her church home for many years.  Sunday school was a blessing in itself, but the main service included lively music which I love, and a message, the first of four or five on the subject of sacrifice.  It got me to thinking about how we as human beings, at least in America, do not have a very good attitude towards sacrifice, nor do we understand what sacrifice is all about… letting offenses go, not holding grudges, and so forth. Basically, we want what we want and do not wish to be inconvenienced in any way if we can at all avoid it.

Someone sacrificed time, money, water to make these beautiful for others

Someone sacrificed time, money, water to make these beautiful for others

As Christians, we are actually called to a life of sacrifice. We are called to be like Jesus, who sacrificed His life, ultimately, so that we could live life to the fullest, till it overflows–the abundant life.  And, if you read the Bible at all, you will undoubtedly notice how Jesus sacrificed not only finances, but physical luxuries, necessities, his time, emotions, and probably much sleep to spend time with His Father, most importantly, then the people to whom He was sent to minister, and finally to His disciples to whom He would leave the bulk of His wisdom and instruction during His brief time of ministry on this earth.

Granted, we are not God in the flesh nor are we anywhere close to being perfect as He is perfect, but we can have confidence in Him to empower us to live this sacrificial life every day as we work, play, deal with family and life’s issues that come up on a daily basis.

If you are anything like me, sacrificing my life is not a pleasant thought at all!  And, that morning, listening to a sermon about it was not something I was looking forward to. I’m pretty selfish and self-centered in the grand scheme of things as I’ve discovered over the years and being confronted with that truth was pretty unsettling. But, because I love the Lord so much, it is important for me to occasionally remember how important each one of us is to Him and because He’s given me so much, I can learn to share.  I must not live my life as the only diva in the universe!  Others are just as important to my Creator, Savior and Lord!

So, what is sacrifice and what does it mean anyway?  In what ways are we supposed to sacrifice to satisfy the “calling” to live a sacrificial life.  Well, I suppose ultimately it involves putting others first, denying our own lusts and passions, and giving till it hurts.  For some of us, that will be easier than for others.  But, since God knows each of us intimately, He knows just what is a sacrifice and what is not.  For a rich man, giving $5,000 is nothing.  For a poor man, $5 is a tremendous sacrifice.  May I refer you to the story in the Bible of the widow’s mite.  Her sacrifice of a few pennies was honored far more than the thousands of dollars from a rich man.

Perhaps God is calling you to give up a few of these for your health's sake?

Perhaps God is calling you to give up a few of these for your health’s sake?

Sacrifice does not always mean financial either.  For some, giving a smile or a kind word to another person is very difficult and would be considered a great sacrifice because they are experiencing great anger, sadness or depression themselves.  In fact, a lot of the time, sacrifice might just mean spending time with a friend or a stranger when you’d rather be doing something else, a simple act of kindness.  Quite frankly, I wonder if we think that we’re sacrificing only when it’s something really big like giving up a kidney or sending hundreds or thousands of dollars to a missionary overseas, and, consequently, don’t even consider the little sacrifices we can make every day to enhance the lives of others!  We have to be careful of doing those big things, because they can build up our pride and then not be a true sacrifice, but an event to be bragged about.

Ok, so what’s in it for me?  Well, the fact that I would ask that at all shows my heart isn’t in the right place.  But since I did ask, maybe there is something to be shared from the times I have actually experienced sacrificing for others.  It feels really, really good!!!

When we take the opportunities God gives us to lay something down, share with someone in need, put Jesus first instead of our own desires, He makes us stronger and more alive in Him.  We are moving from being a child to growing up in God.  We are growing from selfishness to selflessness, me-oriented to God-oriented, childish to child-like.  In addition, God often will give back to you in ways that you cannot even imagine.  You know all those long hidden secret desires and ideas you have not even uttered in prayer?  Don’t be surprised if those don’t start to get answered, without your even asking.

God loves a cheerful giver.  That doesn’t just apply to financial things like tithes, offerings, alms, etc.  But when you give or sacrifice in faith, even trembling faith, as God directs you to,  His grace, mercy, and favor are extended to you in marvelous ways!  You know, He wrote the Book on sacrifice.  He can help and direct you in starting to live a life of sacrifice.  It’s not easy, especially for those of us who are divas…but in the end, it’s such a much better life and so much more fulfilling, happy, purposeful.

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“Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance.  Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].  Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.  Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus:  [Let Him be your example in humility:]”  Philippians 2:3-5  The Amplified Version