26 Apr SACRIFICE – Living lives that bring others closer to God
As a believer, when I hear the word “sacrifice” my thoughts jump to what I believe is the ultimate sacrifice…the most important sacrifice that has ever occurred…the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross to pay for our sins. Romans 3:23-25 (NLT version) says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” I love this translation. I love the reminder that we all fall short of His “glorious standard,” but that we can still be made completely RIGHT with God simply by believing that He shed His blood for us and made the ultimate sacrifice. What a forgiving, generous, and loving God we have!!
So what does this mean for us and the way we live out our lives? 1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” If we are called to be as much like Jesus as we can, how can we live sacrificially like He did in order to serve Him and spread His love to others? If I’m honest, often when I think about sacrificing myself, I immediately feel tired and overwhelmed. As a mom, I feel like I am in a constant state of sacrifice…we sacrifice our bodies to carry our babies, and then from the minute they come out until…well, forever (insert scared emoji face here). We sacrifice our time and energy pouring into them and meeting their needs. I literally give them the food off of my plate if they don’t want to eat their own. I mean, that’s some real love right there! And of course moms aren’t the only ones sacrificing…Are you an employee? A dad? A sister, brother, friend, caretaker, or grandparent? I’m pretty sure if you’re a human, you are constantly making sacrifices! As believers though, we are called to sacrifice a little bit differently. Of course, we sacrifice in ways that help and care for others in general, but we also sacrifice in ways that lead people to grow closer to Jesus. So as a mom, sometimes I sacrifice my time to have conversations with my son about Christ, when really I’d rather get the dishes unloaded or have a moment to myself. Or perhaps as an employee, I sacrifice my comfort by bringing up hard questions with my coworkers that might lead to a spiritual discussion, when I’d really rather just talk about sports and the weather because that feels easier.
What’s so encouraging though, is that if we make an effort to sacrifice for others in the name of Jesus, we are being obedient! There are so many verses that command us as followers of Him to love others sacrificially. Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” When we live and love in a way that’s different, a way that’s bold and unexplainable, others notice. They become curious about what it is about us that makes us able to live so sacrificially while maintaining joyfulness and a peace that surpasses understanding. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Isn’t this amazing? We can bring others to Christ by living sacrificially and letting our light shine for Jesus, and they in turn will eventually glorify Him – leading to even more believers! So although each and every sacrifice we make here on earth feels hard and at times exhausting, it’s worth it. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
If we believe what we say we do, and are thankful for the ultimate sacrifice that was made for us by Jesus himself, we can absolutely sacrifice ourselves not only in order to be obedient and follow His commands, but to fulfill our ultimate purpose which is to be ambassadors of Christ and make disciples of as many people we can in our short time here on earth!
Questions to reflect on:
1. Where are you tempted to live selfishly rather than sacrificially towards others?
2. What are some ways that you could show sacrificial love to the people in your life today?
3. Is there someone specific that you struggle to love sacrificially? How can you take one small step toward loving them and pointing them to Christ?