Whatever Happened to Sacrifice?

Tuesday is Veterans’ Day – a day to remember and appreciate those who have faithfully and bravely served their country in the military, and those who continue to serve in that capacity today. It is a day to remember the dead and the living – to appreciate their sacrifices, small and great. Without such sacrifices, America, as we know it, would not exist.

Sacrifice is one of the things that has made America great. Not just the sacrifices of our founding fathers and courageous warriors, but of everyday people, who make sacrifices by working hard, lending a hand, planning ahead, saving instead of spending, conserving instead of wasting, going out of their way to help a friend or a stranger, etc. Sadly, in recent decades we have become an increasingly self-indulgent, “me-first”, consumer-driven society in which few sacrifices are made. We appreciate the sacrifices of others and enjoy the blessings and privileges they made possible. But we seem less willing to make the necessary sacrifices to secure those blessings and privileges for future generations!

As followers of Jesus, we should know the meaning of sacrifice. It is because of the sacrifice of One that we are saved, blessed and heaven-bound! God sacrificed His own Son for us, and Jesus sacrificed His own life for us! We appreciate this loving, saving sacrifice! We come together to celebrate this sacrifice – we sing about it, study about it, talk about it, pray about it and commune around it. But do we participate in it? Do we make sacrifices? Or, are we too caught up in the self-indulgent, “me first” thinking of our times?

Jesus made it crystal clear – we can’t be His true followers unless we live sacrificially:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  (Luke 9:23-24) While the world says, “indulge yourself”, Jesus says, “deny yourself!”

Paul echoes the same: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  (Romans 12:1) We should use our lives to benefit and bless others and, of course, to honor God!

And in Ephesians 5:1-2,“Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Church, let’s do more than enjoy the fruits of others’ sacrifices – let’s pledge to live sacrificially. Let’s give it up, lay it down, let it go, make it count. Let’s make sacrifices for the higher good – it’s more than the American way, it’s the Christian way!

Rich Howell

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