Jesus tells us those who want to come after Him need to DENY SELF, take up our CROSSES, and FOLLOW HIM, but when we think of denying self and living for Christ we may think mostly in terms of sacrificing a lifestyle of sin and sacrificing our material possessions and money in order to give to people in need. For those desiring to spend eternity in heaven with God and not forever in hell and the lake of fire, we absolutely must turn from sin and turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and live for Him. And we absolutely should sacrifice our material blessings when the Lord desires to help the hungry, hurting, poor, etc. But if we believe this is all, we are missing a vitally important sacrifice we are also called to make. The sacrifice of our HEARTS and TIME.
Loving God and loving others is not merely about leaving our sins behind and being generous with our material belongings and money. It’s also very much about making sacrifices of our hearts and time. The perfect role model? Jesus! Other role models? The disciples of Christ in the Bible. Others? The prophets in the Old Testament. What does it mean to sacrifice of our hearts and time?
Instead of focusing our hearts on and using our time merely for what is enjoyable and comfortable and secure and pleasing and relaxing and entertaining and on personally fulfilling, in loving God and loving others we should go out of our way to spend time with people in need, to show compassion where it is needed, to be merciful when people need it, to lend a listening ear when someone is hurting, to drive people to doctors appointments when they don’t have a ride, to cook meals for people who are sick, to hold someone in our arms who is grieving, to kneel down on the ground with the homeless to give out a Gospel tract, to call people on the telephone who need encouragement, to volunteer at the soup kitchen, to spend time with children who need to hear about Jesus because their parents who too high on drugs to care, to reach out to a prostitute and let her know God has a plan for her life if she would only repent and turn to Him, etc. IF AND AS THE LORDS LEADS US. This is key. For God will lead us in how He wants us to love and serve Him and others. These are merely examples.
Examples of what? Of making sacrifices with our hearts and time. Of going the extra mile. Of going out of our way. Of laying aside our own agendas. Of picking up the phone when we would rather read a good book. Of making a meal when we don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen. Of talking to people who are dirty, broken, run down, smelly, maybe even mean. Of listening to people pour out their hearts to us when it actually hurts to hear what terrible and tragic things they have gone through. Of getting in the car and driving down to the homeless shelter at night to help with the evening meal when we would rather get into our pajamas and eat dinner in bed under our cozy comforters. Of staying up late to help someone who just knocked on the door and desperately needs Bible-based counsel when we would much rather go to sleep early and get a good night’s sleep before work the next day.
Is it possible some of us are simply throwing a big check in the church service offering plate on Sundays, giving away bags of clothes each time we get a new wardrobe, and using the internet to ship boxes of non-perishable foods to the local food pantry and thinking this is what Jesus teaches in the Bible as far as sacrifice is concerned?
Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. He died the most heinous death ever on the cross to pay our sin punishment and was raised from the dead so all who turn from our sins and believe in Him as Lord and in His death and resurrection and truly turn to God and His ways are forgiven and have forever life with God. As this were not enough, He spent His time on this earth learning, preparing, and then spending each and every day living for God the Father and helping a world in need. His sacrifice was the ultimate. Who are we to think what God asks of us is too much when we consider the sacrifice Jesus Himself made for us?
I am challenged in writing this message to go deeper in my faith in Jesus, to grow evermore in my love for the Lord and for others, and to sacrifice increasingly to share the love of Jesus with a world in dire need of Him.
How about you? Ready? Let us grow in faith, love, and sacrifice, and let us go forth as the Spirit of God so leads us to bring glory to the name of God almighty and to sacrifice of our hearts and time for those to whom the Lord leads us!
“Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1