Jesus is asking for intimacy from us. He wants us to share everything with him, holding back nothing. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
We are in the time of Lent where many have steadfastly given up something or done something in sacrifice to commemorate the passion of the Christ. Those traditions go back hundreds of years, all the way back to the days of the Flagellants who whipped themselves into a sacrificial offering during Lent. Luckily such extremes have mostly disappeared today. Most today will sacrifice meat until after Good Friday. Some take this time to go on a diet. Others have give up drinking or smoking. Frankly, after the excesses of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, there are probably millions of meritorious vows that have been made; many out of guilt and some out of spiritual commitment. How does God look on these sacrifices? In fact, how does God look on our sacrifices at any time of the year?
God is pleased when we sacrifice, but he doesn’t find satisfaction in our vows. In fact, he isn’t impressed at all with the fact that we don’t eat meat, abstain from beer, or give up cigarettes for Lent. Think about it. Lent isn’t a Biblical imperative, as the early Christian Church had no such season of preparation; so why would God require anything from us, even if he did require sacrifice, at this time of the year as opposed to any other?
Here’s a thought from Oswald Chambers. “Sacrifice in the Bible means that we give to God the best we have; it is the finest form of worship. Sacrifice is not giving up things, but giving to God with joy the best we have. We have dragged down the idea of surrender and of sacrifice; we have taken the life out of the words and made them mean something sad and weary and despicable; in the Bible they mean the very opposite.” (The Love of God–Now Is It Possible, 684 R)
What does the Bible say about sacrifice? In Genesis 22: 9 we read. “When they (Abraham) reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.” Did God want Abraham to give up the life of his son Isaac to please himself? No. The exercise in obedience that Abraham went through on top of that mountain had nothing to do what Abraham might be giving up. Rather, it was all about what he was willing to give forward. That’s the key to understanding sacrifice in God’s perspective. Abraham would have been mistaken to believe that God wanted Isaac’s life, just as we are mistaken that God wants ours. God wanted Abraham to die to himself, to put his life into God’s hands and trust him completely. He wants the same for us. Drinking, smoking and even eating too much meat can be bad for our health. God gives us the Christian freedom to decide what to do about that. That sacrifice God is looking from us during every day of the year, not just during Lent, is the willingness to die to this world and live for Christ. We do that in obedience as we live our lives as a reflection of Christ. This is a good and pleasant thing, never wearying or despicable. This sacrifice is valuable to God and impresses him over meat and drink every time.
We pray. Heavenly Father, you do not require our lives from us. You expect us to live our lives for you. We have often confused this by our wrong thinking. We think that we can give you something of value that will be meaningful to you when all you have ever required from us is that we love you so much we would live our lives for you. Forgive us Lord when we think that sacrificing things means anything to you. How can we ever add to the sacrifice that Jesus gave for us. Our sacrifice is complete in him. May we live our lives in thankfulness for that and leave the rest to you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
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