25 April 2014

Living Sacrifices

What is the biggest act of sacrifice you have ever made?

Was it money you loaned a friend in need once, hundreds of hours of time given in charity or caring for a family member? Then there is to take into consideration when you did this broke and overburdened.

Human nature seems to take the concept of sacrifice very seriously. Ancient tribes sacrificed animals for centuries. Parents are willing to sacrifice for the good of their children and a bright future. Then there are the thousands of unknown sacrifices everyday by strangers for the good of their fellow neighbour.

We have all sacrificed for others to some degree, either for others or personal long term gain.  How much does a mother sacrifice to give birth and raise her children? Or the sacrifice of a father to provide for his family for decades? Proverbs 14:10 says Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.

One definition of sacrifice is surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity. It can take form in many ways, and be of great personal cost of a relationship, house, career, or moving to a new city. To the believer, whatever it may be it is unique to each person and carries a personal cost.

The theme of sacrifice is throughout scripture. The first offering in the garden was between Cain and Abel. Abraham’s radically obeyed God and willing went to sacrifice his son Isaac. Then there was Solomon’s giant offering to the building of the temple. Or Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian church in their giving.

Then there is the example of Jesus’ life – a life of complete sacrifice for the good of others until death. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).

God Himself sacrificed the most important possession He had too; His only Son Jesus Christ. Given into the hands of a sinful creation and nailed to a cross.

It is clear that God takes sacrifice very seriously. On our part it is meant to be costly and whatever is attached to our heart. Therefore sacrificing the idols of our heart can not be underestimated. For where your treasure is there your heart is also. He asks us to do only what He Himself has done first.

There are times when He will call us to give up items of great personal value to Him. A relationship, a hobby – even our life. To the flesh it will seem unfair, stupid, illogical, or senseless. It will feel unbearable, painful and even heartbreaking. But to the spirit, with eyes of eternity, it will make perfect sense.

Be sure that whatever you give up and sacrifice at the altar with God is a sweet smelling sacrifice to Him. He will honour it and it will come back to you in ways not thought possible. And it will enlarge your faith, drawing you closer to your Saviour and dependence on Him as a mature Christian.

We are called to a life of sacrifice so that we can identify with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the greatest sacrifice mankind will ever know. Be encouraged: God is worthy of our lives and our only response in view of His great mercy of salvation is to offer our lives to Him in every area. You will be glad that you did.