from You Version
Matt 13.44-46
Gal 2.20

When you hear the word ‘sacrifice’, what comes to mind? Merriam-Webster gives us this definition: an act of offering to a deity something precious. Here, the word we seek to understand is ‘precious’. Something of great value and worth. Two short parables in Matthew 13 get to the heart of this: the Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Parable of the Pearl of Great Value:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)

So in the discipline of sacrifice we must begin with acknowledging idolatry. We are all pulled towards things other than God. What are you pulled towards? Defining and naming our idols which we have placed above our love of the Savior is a critical step towards deepening our relationship with God. Is our first love money or the praise of others or our children or our work? Here, we harken back to the discipline of confession in many ways. We confess that we have not loved God as we should. 

God forgives, but doesn’t stop there. How, then, do we begin to place God at the center of all our days again? We can’t do it alone. The discipline of sacrifice cries for the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” As living sacrifices, we don’t wiggle on the table; instead, we readily submit to the will of God and His authority and work in our lives. Christ in usCome, Holy Spirit. Maranatha. We need God’s power to overcome our tendencies to turn to things other than Him.

But what is the true sacrifice God desires? Jesus tells us in Matthew 9:13: “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Sacrifice is found in the transformation of our hearts. Sacrifice is displayed in how we live our lives and how we respond to others. In short, true sacrifice is putting others above ourselves. And this deeply translates into evangelism. 

The discipline of sacrifice must always end in showing & sharing the love of Jesus in a broken and hurting world. It shrugs off the idols of fear, complacency, and self, and extends, with two arms open, the good news of Jesus. If Christ is now in us, then He desires to make Himself known to others. Our offering to God is allowing Him to do that through us. We become vessels of mercy and grace to a world drowning in sin and sadness. 

Questions for Reflection: 

  • Do you find the idea of sacrifice to God unnerving, or comforting? Why?
  • When you think of sacrifice, what comes to mind as you think about your life? In what ways have you placed other things above God?
  • How can you best shrug off the idols in your life?
  • How can you sacrificially give of your time, talents, or resources to be a witness for Christ?

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