Discipline of Sacrifice
Encouragement Inc. is studying the disciplines: scripture, solitude, supplication, stewardship, singing, silence, serving, sabbath, sacrifice. All the study really needs to be applied! I need to just do it! Anyway, last Sunday Jeff talked about sacrifice. For me this is one of the hardest concepts to wrap my mind and my muscle around. So here are some of my thoughts.
By way of definition: when you decide to give up something valuable in order to get something more important.
By way of summary: 5 attitudes develop as a result of sacrifice.
- Freedom – sacrifice is the ultimate means to liberation. Giving up “my way”
- Surrender – happiness is not based on getting my way. Giving up “my rights”
- Identity – is found in Jesus, not in the sacrifice “giving up – yielding”
- Attention – If the greatest sin is forgetting God, then sacrifice makes us remember “giving allegiance”
- Imagination – renewing my mind includes new paradigms and perspectives.
The scene in National Treasure where Ben has to choose between saving the Declaration of Independence and Abigail Chase meant that one had to be sacrificed. The scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has Elsa dangling over the abyss with one hand on the holy grail and the other held by Indy. She thinks she can have her “cake and eat it too”, that she can have the grail and walk away with her life too, so she refuses to choose and ends up losing everything. Indy almost makes the same mistake until his dad gives him some advice. He sacrifices the artifact for his life and the chance for another adventure. (Now that we saw the last adventure of the crystal skull, we might want to rethink the advantage of another adventure – that is Hollywood.) The point is that without sacrifice, there is a life of regret; without giving up one good thing for something better, you end up with nothing but unhappiness. When you think that you can have whatever you want, without giving up something in return, you can never really embrace and enjoy your choices. For example, hypothetically, if you move across town to Downey for a cheaper rent and a new adventure, but you spend all your time complaining about the inconvenience of the drive, the lack of storage and the amount of stuff you had to let go of, the loneliness, etc, then you will never be able to recognize what God has provided and what new experiences He has for you there. There are always tradeoffs. At the end of the day, the question is not, “what am I willing to do to reach my goal?” but is, “what am I willing to sacrifice?”
Heb. 13:15 says that we are to continually offer a sacrifice of praise. For me this means more than just an easy response for God’s blessings, protection and help. That is not a sacrifice. The times that God does not come through when or how we thought he would, and He seems very far away or silent, when I cannot see His goodness or I feel forgotten, praise is the last thing on my mind or in my heart. That is when I think it takes a sacrifice to lay down everything on the altar and thank a God I do not understand. That is when I make a choice to believe that God is still good and can be trusted. Real praise that continues regardless of my circumstances. God is honored. My faith grows.
Today I am 48 in the faith. Boy I have a long way to go!