Friday, December 3, 2010

Precious Things Are Saved Only by Sacrifice

During the past two years the Lord has taught me much about sacrifice. Sadly, in today’s “me first” society, sacrifice has lost its true meaning. Most think of it only in terms of sacrificing one thing in order to attain something bigger or better. We gladly sacrifice a little here or a little there as long as we are sure the outcome will be in our favor. But true sacrifice, the kind that fuels the passion of the soul, has no such expectations.

The abundant life that Jesus offers is one that is based on sacrifice, but of course this message is not one that today’s world wants to hear much less live by. Jesus said that you would know His disciples by their love one toward another. He continually admonished His followers to love their neighbor as themselves and to even love their enemies. He lived the life of a servant and told His disciples when they asked Him who would be the greatest in His kingdom that “if anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

So, it is no wonder that the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. We can conclude then that the key to spiritual victory is not getting all you can get, but giving all you have. Many people flock into churches and seek spiritual experiences to get more of God when the issue is not what they need to GET but what they need to GIVE.

I don’t pretend that this is easy but as John MacArthur has skillfully said, “This [presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice] is absolutely necessary if we are ever to know the fullness of the blessing of God and be able to render to him the service that is due to Him and bring Him glory. Most Christians never really come to that place fully. They flirt with the world, they flirt with the flesh. They flirt with their own personal indulgences and desires. They become victims of the philosophy and psychology of the world around them. They buy into the world's bag. They entertain themselves with the world's mode of entertainment. They think along the lines the world thinks. And so they never really come to the place of total commitment that is discussed in these two verses and therefore they forfeit the fullness of the blessing that God would have for them.”

I think for many of us we meet a need here or help someone over there and we feel pretty good but God is asking for our mind, body, and soul. When He is in possession of us than we are most suited to serve others as He did and experience His full blessing in our lives. In other words, if our vertical relationship with God is where it should be than our horizontal relationships with others will also be in harmony.

I think so often we have this backwards. We work on our horizontal relationships in our own power and then feel like a failure and wonder why our walk has become a burden when the key from the start is to fill up on God and let his power flow through us. Of course, this takes much sacrifice, doesn’t it? It means turning off the TV, the radio, the computer, and communing with the Living God in His Word and in prayer.

What is even more frustrating is that when I have truly committed myself to the Lord my Christian life feels effortless and full of joy but soon, for whatever reason, I revert back to doing things myself and in my own power and soon the drudgery resurfaces.

I think it is important as we seek to know God more and to glorify Him within our lives to remember that anything worth having, anything that truly endures is always attained by sacrifice and the Lord is asking us to be a living sacrifice unto Him. Surely, this is not too much to ask by the One who sacrificed His own life for us so we may obtain eternal life.

“The Christian life is never measured in success but in sacrifice.” – Leonard Ravenhill

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