But I used to hate it. Going out of my way was often out of the question. The word sacrifice meant suffering, and who needed that?
Things to do. Places to go. People to see. Whims to gratify. Lies to believe.
But the spirit changes us. It infiltrates the dark and makes it light. We find pleasure in helping others, even (especially) when it means going out of our way. Praise God!
Small Sacrifices of the Heart
Today my son wanted to go out and see the rain, again. It was cold, and I wanted to finish that last load of laundry before dinner. I mumbled something under my breath about “you need your coat and shoes first.”
Here’s my 20-month-old, in the blink of an eye, standing before me holding his coat and shoes. I felt that moment cross my heart: This is good learning for him. He wants to experience it.
I smiled down at him, and we walked out to the porch so he could feel the raindrops, watch the pitter-patter of wet leaves and hear the cars swooshing by on the street. It was such a small sacrifice of time and convenience — and it was awesome!
So unlike the “sacrifice” just a night before when an argument broke out between me and my husband over cookies.
In my foolishness, I had things to say — juicy things! — things that would have won that argument! They were bubbling up to pop out of my mouth, but it was better to say nothing.
He had a few more things to say. I sat there and felt that moment cross my heart: Sacrifice yourself.
It felt like a burn to sit and listen and say nothing else. And not just to sit and listen, but to sit and listen without feeling angry or offended or bothered inside. And to not react, but to love him.
Now the whole thing seems ridiculous… and I don’t remember the juicy things, so guess they weren’t that juicy. Whew!
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
– Mother Teresa
Our Sacrifices are Just Sacrifices
But in the end, small or big, the sacrifices we make do not make us holy. They don’t win us points in heaven. We are moved to do good because God gives us the right spirit to do His work. And the joy is in becoming more like Him and being used by Him!
“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in – that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.”
- Mother Teresa
The Book of James opens up with him, James, introducing himself, explaining his position:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (James 1:1)
It’s simple and clear. It communicates his role and desire. It involves faith.
Sacrificing It All
As a good servant, filled with the spirit of God, we will be empowered to make good sacrifices in faith that have eternal benefits and rewards.
“By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”
Giving up our sinful nature, while it might seem like quite the sacrifice (What’s so juicy about hurtful words anyway?), is actually giving up everything that keeps us in the dark.
Because the hardest part is already done: the ultimate sacrifice has already been made.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
– John 6:51