It is an easy trap to get into when we talk about how much we have sacrificied to follow Jesus and how hard life is after we gave up so much to follow Jesus. Understand, we do give up things/offer things up to God in following Him. In fact, we are told to “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15) and to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God because it is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
But sometimes, we esteem what we give up as something very high or very costly, almost valued evenly (or even above) with that which we are laying it down for. In other words, we can make it seem like following Jesus is some terrible thing or that Jesus really got a deal when we chose to follow Him because of what we have “sacrificed”.
This past Sunday we talked about the crucifixion and how incredible the pain was:
- How Jesus was scourged and how the metal balls on the end of the flagrum would cause deep contusions and the sharp bones also at the end would have torn into the skeltal muscles and produced quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.
- How the nails into His hands (wrists) and feet near the nerves would have caused severe pain up and down His body resulting in severe cramping.
- How He would have had to pull up on the nails in His wrists and push down on the ones in His feet to be able to breathe and how painful that was
- How in breathing His back with all its lacerations would reopen as it scrapped against the rough wood
In fact, the word “excruciating” was created to describe the horrible pain of the cross as it means “out of the cross” in the Latin. All this pain (plus the act of the world’s sins being placed on Him) He volunteered for so He could be our propitiation (substitute sacrifice). He went through all this so that we could have life.
And yet we talk about all we go through for Him to which I say isn’t really sacrifice in comparison. It is however, “our reasonable act of service”.
Getting up “early” to go to a church service is not a sacrifice. Not hanging around friends who are a poor influence to follow Christ is not a sacrifice. Giving of money to God’s work is not a sacrifice. Not living in sin is not a sacrifice.
Suffering horribly voluntarily for the sins of the world and continually loving them in spite of all we do – that is a sacrifice. Let us be careful how we use that word and how we relate what we give up for Him, because in comparison it is nothing.
You gave up sins that lead to death so you can find life. You gave up friends who lead to corruption so you can be holy. You give up a little money in response to all the riches He gives you now and in the life to come. You give up a little sleep to hear the life changing truths of God’s word and be in fellowship with God’s people (as told we should do). You gain far more than you could ever exchange.
So again, let us be careful of what we say are “sacrifices” for Jesus!
This blog post comes from further thoughts of the topical sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:2 and the crucifixion titled “The Crux of the Matter” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings. We are also on iTunes – search “Refuge Sanger” or “Pastor Mike Massey” to find our messages.
Be reminded how much He loves you and why you can find life through His crucifixion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms1qU3TXDwI