Life is simply full of sacrifices. As a matter of normal course, we often give up something we care about or love to gain something we care about or love more. Sacrifice embraces change and transition as we let go of important things to gain more important things.
Sacrifice: How Do You Know When it is Too Much?
My friend sends a daily devotional to his friends. It always starts with a quote, and I regularly “steal” the quote. I had no intention of doing a podcast on sacrifice this morning, I had 12 other topics I was working with, but this quote caused me to start writing in my journal, and realizing that instead of taking the time to write something else, we just need to go with this topic. It is in our hearts, so this is what we will discuss. Here’s the quote:
“If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ.”Nate Saint
We all have made many sacrifices throughout our lives, letting go of important things to gain or accomplish things of greater value. As it regards our journey to Africa, we know it is and will be a sacrifice, but here’s the amazing thing about it: It does not feel like a sacrifice, it feels like a joyful privilege — because it is.
As you consider the sacrifices you are called upon to make, here are a few questions we’ve considered throughout our life, and this journey in weighing out the costs and the joys.
How do you know when the sacrifice is TOO great?
We mustn’t be motivated by asceticism. Asceticism is severe self-discipline, cutting ourselves off from enjoying anything in religious devotion. Asceticism is “earning” God’s favor by punishing ourselves. God is not punishing us when he gives us an invitation to participate in something wonderful and fulfilling.
I admit that as I continue to understand “taking up our cross,” “denying self,” etc., I may Lose perspective and take on a tinge of asceticism, but when I see that happening I know I am missing the point. We GIVE our lives that we may truly GAIN our lives. We take up the “cross” of Christ that we may experience the true joys that are only available through the abundant life that Christ gives to us.
We have much to say about this as it continues to unfold in our own lives, but we TRUST God that the difficulties, trials, and challenges we face on this journey are working a far greater good in our lives and in the world… and that it is worth it—above and beyond!
How do you know when the sacrifice is too great? Here are some thoughts:
The sacrifice will usually be commensurate with the vision or the hope.
The sacrifice (not as a rule, but as an evaluator) will usually be commensurate with the vision or the hope. I would give my life for my children to keep theirs. I would not give my life for the family dog (some people would, me, no.). I assign value in a certain way and the way I assign value determines what I am willing to sacrifice. Some would not make a sacrifice for the mission of God because they do not believe it right to share Christ in other cultural contexts.
The Sacrifice is too great if the desired outcome is not valuable enough to warrant the cost.
The sacrifice is too great if the desired outcome is not valuable enough to warrant the cost. If our sacrifice takes us out of the game forever, then it is to be very carefully considered. In baseball, a sacrifice is when a player bunts the ball assuring their own “out” in order to put another player into scoring position. In this case “out” is temporary, it costs the team one of their “outs” for the inning, but it increases the likelihood of the true goal, scoring. The goal in a baseball game is putting runners across home plate and putting numbers on the scoreboard. So, how do you know when the sacrifice is too great, hard to say, but in a baseball game it would be clear to me that getting tagged out in order to position your team to score: worth it. Sustaining a life changing injury that will end your career in order to position your team to win: NOT worth it.
Think about it.
The extent of the sacrifice must be a personal decision/choice.
Sacrifice is a personal choice. I chose to never sacrifice the health or well-being of my family for the church or ministry, or to placate a dysfunctional member. We did choose many times to choose obediently following what we felt to be the will and pleasure of God over financial gain, financial security, and many of the material things we would have liked. It has been a lifelong lifestyle choice. And here’s the thing… we trust God to know the better way for us, better than the way we would make for our selves through our own choices. My observation: I’ve never been disappointed. Totally worth it.
No one can decide for you what you should or shouldn’t sacrifice. You have to decide, because it will be you who pays the price.
By the way, I’ve been in toxic environments where church leaders wanted to decide for you what you were going to sacrifice. I’ve seen the damage that comes from such toxic leadership.
For us, transitioning our lives and our family to go to Africa is a sacrifice, but it is a joyful sacrifice. Funny thing about joyful sacrifices, they feel more like a joyful privilege than they do a sacrifice. Wow, we GET to do this and we are so honored… See, that’s the heart that should accompany the sacrifices, and sometimes we have to grow into a place where we open our hearts and our hands a little wider, we see more clearly the vision and the heart of God, and we offer to God that which does joyfully cost us much.
Finally… (For Part One)…
For our commitments and our sacrifices to produce the desired results while producing joy in our lives, we have to grow toward those sacrifices. It’s not something pushed, cajoled, or guilted out of us.
Our sacrifices are an investment toward a vision, a desired outcome, a mission. As we walk in the grace of God, only out of that relationship can you come to answer the question of what you are to give, to sacrifice, and evaluate the costs you are willing to pay for the things important to you.
Sacrifice always begins with the sacrifice of self. Letting go of our agenda and embracing the agenda of God. He prepares us step by step.
At the beginning of my journey I was not where I am now. I am capable of embracing things I could not have just a few years ago… and, I have the hope that in the future we will be prepared for new things and new adventures, we will be ready to take on greater challenges, because we’ve been prepared.