“The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV
“The limits of your sacrifice evidence the reality and extent of your love.”
My thoughts today are about “living sacrificially.”
Sacrifice is often avoided whenever possible, until there remains no other option. Most of us are sacrifice-adverse. Such a person sees a risk and estimates the cost, unless and until persuaded that the less certain, future rewards are worth the present sacrifice. Yet fullness of life seems to require a willingness to make sacrifices for your own good and the good others. The person who will not live sacrificially is destined to live superficially.
Friendships, marriages, families – even life itself – necessitate some times and measure of unselfishness and sacrifice. Strong marriages are built on individual sacrifices from both husband and wife. Their sacrifices may not always be equal, but they must be mutual. Parents also make significant sacrifices small and great for their children – personally, financially, materially – deferring something of their own lives for the sake of their children’s well-being.
Spiritual life and growth are only possible through sacrifice, deferring one’s preferences in order to live in obedience and love. Sacrifice is the language and proof of love. The limits of your sacrifice evidence the reality and extent of your love. “Jesus said, ‘No one that has left house, or (relationships), or fields (describing the sacrifice of comfort, or companionship, or commerce) for Me and the Gospel, will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age . . and with them, persecutions, and in the age to come, eternal life.’” Mark 10:29-30 NIV. That “receives a hundred times as much” sounds pretty good, not so much the other part “and with them, persecutions!” Sacrifice is costly in the interim, but abundantly rewarding ultimately.
Your salvation cost Jesus dearly; your discipleship will cost you as well. This is the Apostle Paul’s simple principle as taught to the Roman church, but applicable to every Godly relationship, “Honor one another above yourselves . . in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Romans 12:10/Philippians 2:3-4 NIV. Sacrifice is not a complex idea; it is a severe obedience of putting another before yourself.
The Bible verse, most familiar and descriptive of supreme sacrifice, may well be this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life . . He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” John 3:16 NIV/Romans 8:32 NKJV. “Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful for words!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT.
Nor was the sacrifice imposed upon Jesus, but rather joyfully embraced, “Jesus Christ . . loved us, and by His own sacrificial death He has freed us from our sins . . Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross . .” Revelation 1:5 TEV/Hebrews 12:2 NIV.
God models the nobility as well as the power of sacrifice. “The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV. Who is first consideration in your calculations and plans? What are you willing to “lay down” – rights, demands, convenience, opinions, or expectations – to be His disciple and serve others?
My prayer for you today is that you understand that giving is the key to a joyful life.