Courage, dear heart.
Sacrifice is a word with a heavy connotation. And rightfully so, the primary definition means an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially : the killing of a victim on an altar. Immediately I think of Jesus Christ and his ultimate sacrifice on the cross on Calvary. He humbled himself even to death (Philippians 2:8). He did not fight those who wrongfully accused him. Instead He focused on the bigger picture, what God would do through his obedient sacrifice. And that to save all who would believe in Christ (Hebrews 12:2, John 3:16).
I don’t know about you, but I am ever grateful for the Lord’s sacrifice, without which my soul would not be saved. On the contrary, I would be trapped in a fate of being separated from God. But in believing in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ I am made right with God and receive salvation.
When I sit and think about all of this, how undeserving I am of such grace, it’s enough to make me want to make sacrifice my new favorite word! 🙂
We Make Sacrifices Each Day
Another definition says sacrifice refers to something given up or something destroyed or surrendered for the sake of something else. If you’re a parent you know all to well how we often sacrifice our time, energy, and wants to devote to our children. During the different seasons in raising a child you can experience this sacrificial love in varying degrees and areas. For example when you have a newborn baby you will most likely lose sleep to get up and tend to the needs of your baby.
In our daily lives we make choices that give up something we want for the benefit of something else. Such as choosing to forfeit your gym time after work to work late so that you meet your boss’ deadline. Or when parents sacrifice their adult leisure activities to be present at their children’s activities. For parents the the idea of sacrificing your wants & needs for your children is nothing new.
But how far would you go? What price would you pay? Each of us has a limit, and most are not self-less enough to forfeit his life for another’s. Thanks be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ who is our example of true sacrificial love.
The Biblical Purpose of Sacrifice
Throughout the Old Testament starting with the Mosaic Law a pattern of sacrificing livestock, grains, and other food products was practiced (see Leviticus 1). It gives great detail to the specifications God prescribed. He wanted the offering to be of free will (not an obligation or compulsion).
The Bible lists details of the type of animal (down to the spots on the hide of the animal), the when, where, how, and by whom the sacrifice should be performed. In being meticulously detailed God ensured that the sacrifices Israel offered would fulfill its purpose of making atonement for the sins of the people, or for another reason the Lord prescribed (such as celebrating the harvest, etc).
And here you must remember God is the Father of lights.
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
He is a just and perfect God, who cannot be in the presence of sin.
Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
The Lord is a jealous God. He does not want our allegiances divided or our motives to be selfish. He asks for our first and very best to be offered to Him, which in itself is a major sacrifice as we instinctively want to keep those for ourselves. I am referring to all things in your life, whether its your time (start your day by seeking first His kingdom and righteousness-Matthew 6:33), your talents, your attitude, work ethic, and whatever you gain from working or investing. In seeking to give God our highest and very best, we draw out that same quality of lifestyle for ourselves.
The Ultimate Sacrifice – Once and For All
The Mosaic law, which required repeated sacrifice clearly could not make complete atonement. It put man, in all our faults and weaknesses, on a merry go round of being atoned (made right with God), only to fall into sin, guilt and condemnation again. Then came the atoning sacrifice of a spotless lamb, the sprinkled blood on the alter, and man goes back to living life on a hope and prayer that he would not sin again.
Then Jesus Christ came.
Hebrews 7:24-28 (NIV)
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Jesus Christ is our example of what a life completely submitted to God looks like. He shows us that we are able to live righteously by the power of the Holy Spirit within us and not us in our own strength and willpower. He also is the ultimate sacrifice for sin to all who believe in Him.
Called to live a life of sacrifice
With it being Memorial Day in the United States, we remember and pay homage to great men and women that sacrifice their lives, safety, time with their families, and health to serve and protect the country in various capacities. They are soldiers, police officers, firemen, EMT medics, auxiliary personnel, and varied other roles in the armed forces. This day honors those current, the veterans, and those who sacrificed their lives while serving in these roles.
When I use the word sacrifice here its to say that these men and women lived their lives in this role of sacrifice. They were led to roles that innately required a denial of self wants and needs for the greater good of protecting the entire country or providing rescue for its citizens. The men and women who play these roles are aware of the high risk of possibly losing their lives while serving in active duty.
Their sacrifice is not that they chose to offer up their lives on a platter, but that they were aware of the greater mortality risk they faced and still they did not pull back. They did not withhold the good they could do by not fulfilling their roles. No. Instead they rose to the call to live a life of sacrifice, in which they frequently subjugated themselves for the greater good of humanity.
To the men and women veterans and those currently in the armed forces, the police, fire rescue, EMT, and others who serve to protect and help our citizens. We honor and salute you for your bravery and care! Thank you for all that you do!