By Kristen M. Soley
If you’re stopping by as part of the Proverbs 31 Made to Crave Bible Study, Thank you for stopping by! For a more detailed post on true sacrifice, visit this post.
When considering intentional sacrifice, one might ponder, 'Why in the world would anybody ever, ever, deprive themselves of anything that could make their life easier, more enjoyable, and possibly delight their senses? Further to that point, what if doing so causes some discomfort or worse yet, pain?
There is but one reason to sacrifice, making discomfort truly worthwhile. Love.
You retort, "But I love a warm fuzzy blanket, a hot shower, a second helping of my favorite entrée, a hot and creamy vanilla latte with a dollop of whipped cream, the last piece of chocolate cake, or a luxurious turtle cheesecake."
That, my friend is not love. But I understand.
Sacrifice is Love
Love begins with Jesus, and when it comes to sacrifice, He simply cannot be out done.
According to Miriam Webster, sacrifice is, "The act of giving up something that you want to keep, especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone."
Let's break that down:
- What was the something that Jesus gave up? His life, among other things.
- Why did He do this? “That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who…had been subject to slavery” (Heb 2:14-15).
- Who did He want to Help? You and me.
In John 15:12 we read “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
Yes, we are to love as Jesus loved. How did Jesus ultimately show us His love? He, being sinless and blameless, took our sins upon Himself and made himself the expiation for our sins. He sacrificed His life, that we may live.
I know Jesus' sacrifice is a stark contrast to the type of sacrifice we often consider, but for me, sometimes saying 'no' to that vanilla latte or hand full of peanut m&m's is heroic!
St. Paul teaches that we are not to be strangers of sacrifice, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Romans 12:1)
Sacrifice and the Battle
We are made up of both flesh and spirit. Our spirit is always leading us to the things good, true, and beautiful; that will draw us closer to God. Unfortunately, our flesh, our humanity, is drawn toward the things of this world - the things that appeal to our senses, our flesh. These things lead us away from God. These temptations of the flesh, though unseen, but very sensed, make sacrifice seem like a steep and daunting precipice.
St. Louis de Montfort teaches
"The Holy Spirit tells us that Wisdom is not found in the hearts of those who live in comfort, gratifying their passions and bodily desires, because 'they who are of the flesh cannot please God' and 'the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God.' 'My Spirit will not remain in man, because he is flesh... If we are to possess incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ, we must practice self-denial and renounce the world and self."
By making sacrifices, for love of Lord, we can temper our desires for the things of this world. These sacrifices strengthen our spiritual muscles, thereby weakening the efficacy of the wiles of the evil one (who is and has been relentlessly pursuing us through temptation and studying our weaknesses since the day we were born - totally unfair, I digress...)
Sacrifice as a Prayer
Sacrifice, in and of itself can be fruitless, but if done for love of Lord, can be a powerful prayer! It is not what we do, but how and why we do them, that make them great. If we do all things for love of God, they will be great; for the Kingdom, for our families, for us, for all whom are affected by our actions.
It is one thing to deny yourself that hand-full of m&m's, and altogether another to offer that small sacrifice to Him, for love of Him. We can spend our entire day loving God through our actions and through those whom God has placed on our path.
Love is not simply a feeling, it is a gift, and as Blessed Mother Teresa says, “Give until it hurts.” That is love, Jesus-style.
I recently watched the Disney movie Frozen with my family and one quote resonated with me. Love, as coined in the movie, is “putting someone else’s needs before yours.” Exactly.
So here are the top 10 Reasons to Sacrifice - Intentionally:
You might lose weight out of the deal!
You will find a renewed strength that only comes from God.
"Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." (Isaiah 40:3)
You will grow in holiness. You will develop a deeper relationship with Christ through prayer that only comes from the longing you allow yourself to endeavor into.
As Lysa TerKeursts writes in her book, Made to Crave:
It is good for God's people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation. Only then can we be empty enough and open enough to discover the holiness we are made for... The gap between our frail discipline and God's available strength is bridged with nothing but a simple choice on our part to pursue... holiness.
You will find more peace in your day.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
... and with peace, you will find true joy.
A life, lived for love of Lord, enables us to live in peace and as a result, experience true joy. As F.B. Meyer says “Joy is peace dancing and peace is joy at rest.”
You will be more open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8:26-27)Four
You will grow closer to Jesus by walking in His footsteps.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
You will allow God to spoil you, for it is in giving that we truly receive.
And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. (Psalm 63:3)Two:
As a disciple, your renewed love, peace, and joy might be the light required to ignite the flame in another soul’s walk with Christ.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
Number One Reason to sacrifice, intentionally
With God's grace, and a life of obedience, love, and yes, sacrifice, you can look forward, with hope, to hear the beautiful words,
"Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21)
Sacrifice may not seem easy, but it is simple. With Him, our yoke is easy, and burden light. He asks us to take up our crosses, daily and follow Him.
St. Francis of Assisi assures us:
· Start by doing what is necessary
· then what is possible
· and suddenly you are doing the impossible
Love is shown in so many ways, sacrifice is most assuredly one of them.