is rare to hear a lesson on the sacrificial life these days. The subject has
fallen out of favor – but it is no less present in Scripture and in God’s esteem
that it was before.
sacrificial life – defined
word sacrificial comes from a pair of Latin words:
- which means set aside, or holy.
2. Facere – which means
short, a sacrifice is something which is set aside (holy) for God, which we
have made ourselves.;
Webster defined the concept in a simple phrase: “to devote with loss.” So a
sacrificial life would be one which is devoted to God, and loses made things to
be set aside for God.
really good example of this is found in 2nd Samuel 24. King David
has a plague on his hands, and is instructed to offer a sacrifice at a
particular spot: the threshing floor of a Jebusite named Araunah. The man
offers to give David the threshing floor, oxen for the sacrifice and wood to
burn it on. David’s reply goes to the heart of the sacrificial life:
2Sa 24:24 NIV
But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I
will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels  of silver for them.
the New Testament this example is extended to its logical conclusion. The
sacrifice required is that of your life, in service to Christ. May we point
out Christ’s call to this life?
up your cross.”
It sounds rather dismal, but it is clear: Christ is calling each of us to
bear a burden for him – if you will, to sacrifice to Him those things we
hold dear. At the least this keeps us away from worldly affections and
their ruin. In the long run, those who suffer with Christ will reign with
your life to save it.
It is the ultimate paradox; but the wisdom of man is no match for the
foolishness of God. This world is a test; be a fool for Christ, humble
and meek, and you will know how great this is.
yoke is easy, his burden is light.
It is another expression of the paradox. Take his yoke; it is easy – even
the greatest of sacrifices become easy when you have accepted the burden.
Imitation of Christ
modern phrase for this life is WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? Older writers would
have recognized the phrase, “The Imitation of Christ.”
way, the life of Jesus is our example. We are to follow; he leads by
example is a life of sacrifice – before the cross as well as at the
cross. The life of itinerant preacher doesn’t exactly lead to the
accumulation of wealth and luxury.
life produced the Name above all names – God the Father honors the son for
sacrificial life is laid out for us in Christ. But sometimes it’s easier to
see this by looking at a bad example, and learning. Hence, Jonah.
is ever a total loss
can always be used as a bad example. Like Jonah. The story should be familiar
to you. Let us see what we can learn from it.
God ask Jonah to do the impossible – or even the extraordinary?
submit that it might have appeared that way to Jonah at the time. But what God
was doing was asking Jonah to step “outside the gates.” Jonah is an
established prophet in Israel – and his view of the Ninevites might have
something to do with his actions.
the Israelites had suffered under the Assyrians (Ninevites) before. They
were cruel masters. At the time of Jonah, however, Israel had the upper
hand – which didn’t seem to have altered their perceptions, though.
was also the possible danger into which Jonah was going. Who knew what
the Ninevites might have done in response to being told that they had 40
days to clean up their act?
may also have reasoned that it would have been better for Israel if God
were to wipe those people out. (Policy advice to God seldom, if ever,
obedience and trust
is clear from the Scripture that simple obedience to God and trust are the root
of a good relationship with him. Jonah didn’t see it that way; may we learn
from his errors?
Jonah was concerned about his reputation. After all, he’s a prophet from
Israel. What will people think if he preaches in Assyria? If you’re more
concerned about your reputation than the glory of God, you are concerned
for this world only.
attempts to oblige God to get someone else. If he runs away from the
task, surely God will need to pick somebody else, right? Wrong. If God
picks you, take up the cross and follow.
he sulks. God uses him to bring repentance to the Ninevites, and his
reaction shows his distaste for the results. Sometimes God does that;
following him means results you don’t like. But you are not responsible
for the results, only the work he calls you too. His foolishness is
greater than your wisdom.
may also note how Jonah was called. Some people are unclear on this,
but we may observe the following:
call was clear. Jonah knew what he was supposed to do; it’s just that he
didn’t like it. Be honest with yourself; has God called you, only to
pretend that you didn’t get the message?
call was personal.
call was for God’s purposes, not man’s purposes. Often enough we will be
called to something we don’t understand or don’t like. No matter; it is
the call that matters.
up the cross
does it mean when Christ tells us to take up the cross? Christ gives us three
actually do know what this phrase means. It means to deliberately deprive
yourself of something. Like:
items – such as food in fasting, or material possessions sacrificed so
that others might receive what we give.
thoughts – to set your mind on things above, denying yourself thoughts of
evil (e.g., pornography) but embracing thoughts in prayer and meditation.
Ask for the truth; the Truth will give it to you.
needs – accept the comfort of Christ in times of trouble, denying yourself
such worldly remedies as alcohol.
needs – so many of us are ruled by our emotions that we can’t see the
needs of others. Set your emotions aside and care for others; then you
may accept his care for your problems.
up your cross daily
is a subtle variation in Luke’s account:
Luk 9:23 NIV
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny
himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
emphasis is added. It is a daily thing.
need to decide to do this each day. It’s not something you set and
forget, but something you face each day.
carry that cross each day – no vacations. It may indeed be lifelong.
you don’t worry about tomorrow’s burdens – “take no thought for the
is that simple. Do as He did, follow his example. Go where He leads you;
learn what He teaches you; suffer as He provides for.
note – the verb is “follow,” not “admire from afar.”
He is leading from the front, not cheerleading from the rear.
can think of no better words to end this lesson than those of Thomas à Kempis:
JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who
bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial.
He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All
desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow
Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His
passion. Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross. Many love
Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as
they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them
for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on
the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their
own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of
consolation. Even if He should never give them consolation, yet they would
continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks. What power there is
in pure love for Jesus—love that is free from all self-interest and self-love!
Do not those who always seek consolation deserve to be called
mercenaries? Do not those who always think of their own profit and gain prove that
they love themselves rather than Christ? Where can a man be found who desires
to serve God for nothing? Rarely indeed is a man so spiritual as to strip
himself of all things. And who shall find a man so truly poor in spirit as to
be free from every creature? His value is like that of things brought from the
most distant lands.
If a man give all his wealth, it is nothing; if he do great
penance, it is little; if he gain all knowledge, he is still far afield; if he
have great virtue and much ardent devotion, he still lacks a great deal, and
especially, the one thing that is most necessary to him. What is this one
thing? That leaving all, he forsake himself, completely renounce himself, and
give up all private affections. Then, when he has done all that he knows ought
to be done, let him consider it as nothing, let him make little of what may be
considered great; let him in all honesty call himself an unprofitable servant.
For truth itself has said: “When you shall have done all these things that are
commanded you, say: ‘we are unprofitable servants.’”18
Then he will be truly poor and stripped in spirit, and with the
prophet may say: “I am alone and poor.” 19 No one, however, is more wealthy than
such a man; no one is more powerful, no one freer than he who knows how to
leave all things and think of himself as the least of all.