It is scriptural to remind faithful saints of God about their obligations before Him. It also is biblical to encourage those same faithful people to grow in their service to the Lord. It is proper, too, to inform slackers that they need to make improvements. When it comes to our own personal spiritual development, the Bible makes it plain that (1) it is possible for us to grow in that fashion and (2) the Lord expects us to do just that.
A personal question: How are you doing when it comes to sacrificing? Do you make sacrifices? To sacrifice means to give up something (or live without something) which we value for the sake of something else which we deem to be more important. In general, why do people give up things which they enjoy or from which they get satisfaction? For some, their sacrifices are made for health reasons. For others, it may be for financial reasons, to improve their relationship with another person, to obtain a particular job, or to stay out of prison. Or, on the spiritual side, it may be that a person makes sacrifices to please God.
One who carefully considers the Bible’s message learns that sacrificing is part of serving the Lord. It is God’s will for each Christian to present his body as a living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1). The Master calls on all who follow Him to deny themselves and take up their cross each day (Luke 9:23). He even said that those who do not forsake everything cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:33). So, sacrifice is not optional, but “comes with the territory” of following Jesus.
Who are some Bible characters who made sacrifices in order to serve the God of heaven? Abraham left his homeland (Genesis 12) and was willing to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22). When a man offered to give David the animals and wood needed for a burnt sacrifice, the king’s response was, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
Four fishermen “forsook all” in order to become fishers of men (Luke 5:11; Mark 1:17-20). A poor widow cast all of her money into the treasury (Mark 12:41-44). Early disciples willingly sold material possessions and gave the money to the apostles for the work of the church (Acts 4:34-37). Faithful first- century saints “risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). The churches of Macedonia gave liberally, despite facing “a great trial of affliction” and living in “deep poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:1,2). We are fascinated to read about a brother by the name of Epaphroditus, about whom it is written that “for the work of Christ he came close to death” (Philippians 2:30). The sacrificial spirit
shown by the early saints stands as a great example for us.
The spirit of sacrifice continues in the lives of many modern-day Christians. We know of cases where people became Christians and were forsaken by their family as a result. Still, they remained faithful to the Lord. We have seen members of the church do without material items in order to give sacrificially to help others or support a church project. We know men who have given up high- paying jobs in order to become gospel preachers. Other disciples have forsaken activities from which they received great enjoyment, in some cases doing so because those activities were sinful, and in other instances letting go of them because they feared those activities were a hindrance to their influence on others.
It may be that a big portion of what we call “sacrifice” in our lives does not really constitute much of a sacrifice at all. In the big picture of things, how great of a sacrifice is it to give up soft drinks, coffee, or tea? How much of a sacrifice is it to give up eating pizza or reducing the number of meals we eat out in a restaurant? What about giving up satellite/cable TV or air conditioning? Some of us old-timers can recall the earlier days of our lives when drinking soft drinks was a rarity, if we ate pizza at all our moms made it, there was no satellite TV available, and we survived without air conditioning in our homes. When I read my Bible and see the sacrifices that our brothers and sisters made in the first century, I see a vast difference in what they gave up compared to giving up what we sometimes label as “creature comforts.” You may or may not be aware of it, and you may have no desire to hear it, but today in a number of areas in the world, we have faithful brothers and sisters who have minimal material stuff, yet they have a heart devoted to the Christ and a sacrificial spirit. The key thought is not to count material objects and earthly activities, but to have a heart that is willing to sacrifice.
The Godhead’s sacrifices on our behalf ought to move us! God gave His only begotten Son for you and me (John 3:16). The Christ gave up His rich estate in heaven to become poor. Why? So we might be rich through His poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9).
When Peter reminded Jesus that he and the other apostles had left all to follow Him, He told them that there will be rewards for those who make sacrifices for Him. Some will come in this life. The greatest reward will be eternal life in the age to come (Mark 10:30). Lord, help us not to whine about what we lack. Rather, lead us to have a spirit of sacrifice for You.
— Roger D. Campbell