Christian Living

How to troubleshoot your sacrifice

Today I’ve been thinking about sacrifice. I like to listen to the soundtrack for Star Trek Into Darkness when I’m writing so I regularly have that scene where Captain Kirk sacrifices himself to save the ship in my head. If you haven’t watched it, well, I realize there are people who don’t like Star Trek. It’s never made sense to me but I do know it is a fact of life 🙂 You can always watch the scene on youtube (although it loses something if you watch it without the context of the movie):

Anywho, sacrifice is one of the themes that pulls together many of the great stories–including Jesus’ life and death. It’s also where the rubber meets the road in the Christian life. We all sacrifice things every single day. Right now, I am sacrificing working on my novel, spending time with my kids, relaxing, and catching up on my to-do list for the sake of working on this blog. Every moment, we’re choosing to do something at the expense of all the other things we could be doing.

That’s why what you spend your time on says so much about who you are.

Sacrifice is one of those integral Christian values that I personally think we don’t spend enough time talking about. Maybe because we forget that we’re already doing it all the time. We sugarcoat sacrifice so as not to scare off non-Christians because it sounds daunting and painful. And it can be.

But imagine that I ask you whether you’d like to sacrifice your week of work for an all-expenses-paid vacation to the beach (or whatever your preferred destination is). Would you consider that a sacrifice? I bet you’d be lining up to ditch work. I know I would 🙂 I love the beach. Sacrificing to go to the beach is not a sacrifice–it is a joy.

Sacrifice is like an equation: (Present – sacrifice) + time = what God wants to give you. There are two parts to that sacrifice that change the equation: 1) the value of what you’re losing and 2) the value of what you’re gaining. You might not be so interested if I were to require your firstborn child in trade. Or a million dollars. Or your mint condition Star Trek collection 😉

Paul says he considers everything as rubbish compared to gaining Christ (Phil 3:8). In case that’s not strong enough, check out the definition for “rubbish”: “waste thrown to dogs, like filthy scraps of garbage (table-scraps, dung, muck, sweepings)” (Strongs, 4657).

So… yeah, that’s gross. It reminds me of desperately trying to convince my baby girl to let me wash the doll she carried around and sucked on every single day (we eventually cheated and bought a second one so we could trade them back and forth). It was super precious to her but also super gross.

That’s the kind of sacrifice God calls us to. He doesn’t just take something from us without giving us something even better. Like Jesus talked about with the grain of wheat–all seeds have to “die” to turn into plants (Jn 12:24). We sacrifice and God grows something awesome out of it (Rom. 8:28; Jas 1:17; Heb. 12:1-2). Sometimes it might be something completely different. Sometimes it might be the same thing–just sanctified and made into something that benefits us (vs. a germ-ridden, dingy doll).

I was reminded today that when I struggle to sacrifice something to God, it has everything to do with my perspective. Do I really believe God wants to give me something better? Do I really believe something better exists? And am I willing to be patient? Seeds don’t grow overnight. Dolls take time to wash. Sacrifices take time to bear fruit.

So what about you? What is God calling you to sacrifice? And, if you’re struggling to go through with it, which side of the equation is the problem at?

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