Living a Life of Sacrifice
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“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29 ESV)
Many of us have small luxuries that, if we are honest, are hard to live without! It may be winding down while watching Netflix, enjoying a favorite meal, cozying up with a nice book, or spending time on a hobby. Mine is coffee. I can get bent out of shape when I’m running late or traveling and cannot get a brewed cup of coffee. I don’t like to sacrifice my caffeine!
But is that truly a sacrifice? What is a sacrifice even considered to be? Generally, a sacrifice involves giving up something of greater personal value in exchange for something of lesser value. While many of us may poorly understand significant personal sacrifice, Jesus is intimately familiar with the subject. He gave up His place in heaven to live 33 years with sinful humanity, culminating with an excruciating death and separation from the Father when he took on all of our sins to save the very people who scorned and killed Him. His sacrifice is unfathomable!
I fear that when we lose sight of what is of the most value, we consequently become incapable of comprehending the daily sacrifices Jesus calls us to. We must not allow our personal preferences and skewed perspectives to devalue Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.
Jesus calls His followers to live lives also characterized by sacrifice. In His Sermon on the Mount, He lays out the parameters for His kingdom. “Blessed are the poor in spirit … . Blessed are the meek … . Blessed are the merciful … . Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake … . Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (Matthew 5:3, 5, 7, 10, 11) Why? “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) In summary, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:30)
David Livingstone, a missionary to Africa in the 1800s, summarized this perspective eloquently in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: “Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory that shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.” As someone very much qualified to speak on what many of us would consider a life filled with sacrifice, Livingstone truly understood God’s eternal perspective. It is not a sacrifice if you gain more out of it!
Ultimately, we find that obedience to God is not a sacrifice. Instead, Jesus declared, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26) So, let us live a life exemplifying bold and selfless obedience to the One who sacrificed everything for us.
God, give us Your eternal perspective so that we can live in a way that aligns with Your priorities! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
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