In a Christian life, sacrifice should be common place. I’m not talking about the Old Testament kind of sacrifices, where a spotless animal was brought to the priests to be offered to God. We now live under grace because Jesus Christ provided it when He died and rose again to pay for our sins and give us a new life. I’m talking about the kind of sacrifice Jesus called us to when he said in Luke 9: 23 NKJV, ““If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.””
Are we willing to deny our own will? Lay aside our own desires for God’s greater purposes? Let’s face it we all have agenda’s of our own. We want certain things in this life. We want life to go a certain way. But God calls us to follow Him and to keep our eyes on Him at all times. Sometimes God asks us to do or not do something and it contradicts our will. At that moment, are we willing to offer up our will to God, sacrificing what we want, so God’s will is done instead?
Since coming to Christ, I’ve been blessed with the many opportunities to lay aside my will for God’s greater purpose, even when I did not understand why. I’ve given my desires to God, who in turn has blessed me far more abundantly than I ever imagined. I’ve offered my perfectionist tendencies to God and He in turn improved my marriage relationship. I’ve offered my desires to control things to God and He has giving me the desire to obey His commands.
In studying the Old Testament you’ll find shocking and appalling stories where parents sacrificed their own children by burning them in fire (Ezekiel 23:37; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 17:31; 2 Chronicles 28:3). What would possess a man to sacrifice their own flesh and blood to a false god? Thankfully, God doesn’t require such sacrifice. However, we can learn from these people. If these people of Old Testament were willing to kill their own children for a fake god, who never performed any miracles to demonstrate they [gods] existed, why do we have a hard time offering our will to the true, living, faithful God who did everything to prove He was not only real but loving, just and merciful?
God desires obedience (rather than physical sacrifice) from His chosen people. He calls us to a higher plane of living, by asking us to obey His commands. Look at what 1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV says, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice”. Think about this for a moment, any one can give something physical (car, house, boat, money), but it is much harder to give of your internal self (desire, will, love, forgiveness, mercy).
When we choose to offer our internal self to the Lord, we need to remember it will cost us something. Look at David’s perspective on giving to the Lord in 1 Chronicles 21:24 NKJV, “Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”” Our willing sacrifice of internal self to the Lord, will cost us something. If it doesn’t cost anything, is it worth giving to God?
In closing let’s return to the verse in the first paragraph, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Denying self is a sacrifice that is pleasing to God. For in so doing, we are demonstrating that God comes before us. Willingly offering to lay aside our desires, our will, and our plans demonstrates Jesus’ will comes first. Remember the part in the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:10 NKJV, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s our goal in this life, enabling God’s will to be done in and through our life. What are you willing to sacrifice so the Lord’s will is done in your life?
Lord, thank you for not asking us to sacrifice our children as a burnt offering! Thank you for giving us the choice to follow you. Thank you for also giving us a desire to do what is right in your sight. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name Amen.
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