If sacrifice and self denial is the bread and butter of the Christian life, why do we struggle so much with it?
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:35
Howard Guinness, in a booklet he wrote in the theme of sacrifice makes the point that the church has pulled back from sacrifice as a way of discipleship and this has resulted in global mission being impeded.
Since sacrifice is central to the work of Jesus on the cross and we as God’s people are to reflect his character… have we become too comfortable as individual Christians or as a church?
Let me run past you four reasons why we are not always good at sacrifice.
- We look at others not Jesus
In other words, we do not understand sacrifice in the context of the cross, instead we look at others around us to see if we have more or less than they do.
- We are happy with the idea of sacrifice but will only do it when compelled to.
Rather than our sacrifice being a spontaneous gesture, guilt is needed to induce an attitude of sacrifice in me. Sadly, this is probably a reflection of the fact I have not understood the grace God has lavished upon me. As people who are free in Christ, we actually have a wonderful freedom to sacrifice for Jesus’ sake. Once again, we must be reminded that the model for voluntary sacrifice comes out of a clear understanding of the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross.
- We sacrifice with the wrong attitude.
We fall into the trap of thinking that what we have is ours rather than His. We forget that we are simply “stewards” of what God has given us not “owners”. This includes the material assets at my disposal, my time, the choices I get to make. If you are anything like me, you will fall into the trap of thinking it is MY time, MY money, MY … The word of God reminds us of this in 1 Cor 6:19-20.
- When we speak of sacrifice, we really are doing something at no cost to us.
I wonder if we have diluted the idea of sacrifice so that it now means “just giving up something”. I have often come across this when people speak of giving up chocolate for lent. When in reality, the chocolate indulgence after Easter renders the abstinence before hand meaningless.
Sacrifice actually means giving up something at some cost to yourself. Once again, look at the cross to give yourself an idea what sacrifice really looks like. (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Anyone is happy to “sacrifice” when it comes at “no cost” but I wonder if we would be ready to be sacrificial if it really cost us.