Of Sacrifice and Service
Recently I’ve been studying about some of the great men and women of God of the past. Many of them made huge sacrifices, because that’s what was necessary to get the job done in the time and place where they lived, or because that’s what the Lord called them to do. The Lord does ask difficult and sometimes very costly sacrifices of His followers today, but in many cases, the sacrifices we make today are different from theirs. Sacrifice, when the Lord asks it of us, is part of our life for the Lord.
The same principle applies to the way many missionaries of the past, who were among the first to bring Christianity to foreign lands, labored with broken health and suffered physically. These men and women of God deserve our admiration for their obedience to follow the Lord no matter what it cost them.
Thankfully our lives for the Lord aren’t just about sacrifice. And most of the time, we don’t have it so bad. There’s a lot of work, and there are difficulties and obstacles, but if you have the right attitude, then you are able to see the blessings and benefits.
God often brings us into an area where He has bigger reasons than we know. He is continually at work in this world and we have the privilege of playing a particular role, but it is in the context of a much bigger picture.
There are many leading characters in the Bible, ordinary people who have done great exploits because they knew their God. God has plans for our lives, and when our hearts and minds are aligned with His, He’ll use us in extraordinary ways. Sensitivity and obedience to His agenda will ensure the outworking of His personal guidance. We may never know the chain of events God orchestrates that eventually puts us in such a place for such a time on a grander scale than we know. Perhaps a life will be saved, a shelter built, a tragedy averted because God was directing our course.
Though we may not be privy to an end result, or only see it in hindsight, God’s plans for our lives are intricately connected to His plans for the world. We need to look beyond the mundane to the magnificent and see God’s divine purpose.
We will never make this world a perfect place; that will only happen when Christ returns in glory. But we are called to make it a better place, doing all we can to alleviate human suffering and combat social injustice. Of all people, Christians should be burdened about intractable problems that plague the human race, such as poverty, disease, ignorance, famine, environmental damage, racism, violence, and war. God may call you to attack these problems directly either individually or on a much larger scale. At a minimum, support those who are working to alleviate these problems in Christ’s name, both by your prayers and your financial support. By doing so, we demonstrate Christ’s compassion for others and also may open the door for the Gospel. Jesus said, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42 NIV)
… Simply living a good life isn’t enough. People also need to understand what the Gospel is—and they will only understand it if someone tells them. The Gospel has content, and it must be communicated in ways people can understand. Paul asked, “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14 NIV) Preaching isn’t limited to a formal speech or sermon. The word Paul used here means announcing or communicating a message, and it happens whenever we share Christ with someone—whether in church, across a cup of coffee, in a hospital or dorm room, at summer camp, or even seven miles up in an airplane.
—Billy Graham, The Journey
There are times when we have to sacrifice and suffer, but we don’t have to do it on purpose just as a self-righteous gaining of personal merit. If we do it, it’s because it happens and the Lord lets it happen, but not because we necessarily ask for it or want it or think we’re gaining any righteousness by it.
I don’t have a sad God! I have a happy God, who wants me to be happy too, and you as well. This is the whole point of it all, to relieve us of the suffering, pain, death and tears brought into the world by the Enemy and the sins of man. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) And “these things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11)
The world’s idea of righteousness is often different from God’s. The world often equates goodness with perfection. But the Lord said the sinner was closer to God than the holier-than-thou priests and Pharisees. He told them, “Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31) For God’s way up is down.
God’s idea of righteousness is the lost, humble, loving sinner who knows he needs God and depends on Him for salvation—not the self-righteous, hypocritical Pharisees who think they can save themselves by their own goodness. Jesus said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick, But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:12–13)
—David Brandt Berg
People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt we owe to our God be called a sacrifice? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own best reward in healthful activity, the knowledge that one is doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?
It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say, rather, it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then, with less of the common conveniences of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink, but let this be only for a moment.
All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice! We ought not to talk of this when we remember the great sacrifice made by Him who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself to us.
[H]e who makes a sacrifice,
So another may succeed
Is indeed a true disciple
Of our blessed Saviour’s creed.
For when we give ourselves away
In sacrifice and love,
We are laying up rich treasures
In God’s Kingdom Up Above.
And hidden in gnarled, toilworn hands
Is the truest art of living,
Achieved alone by those who’ve learned
The victory of giving.
For any sacrifice on earth
Made in the dear Lord’s name
Assures the giver of a place
In Heaven’s Hall of Fame.
And who can say with certainty
Where the greatest talent lies,
Or who will be the greatest
In our Heavenly Father’s eyes!
—Helen Steiner Rice
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