We have it pretty good. We live in a land flowing with milk and honey, as well as drinkable water, coffee, orange juice, soda, wine, beer, candy, meat, nicotine, gasoline, or whatever else we want at the local convenience store that suits our desires. If any of these were to dry up and never be as easy for us to get as they are now, would we feel slighted? That our rights to the availability of these things has somehow been infringed upon? When we give up any of these conveniences in life, such as for Lent, we may feel we are making a considerable sacrifice in our lives. Are we? In our on demand, have it now society, if we don’t get our selfish way all the time, we may cry injustice, without a real sense of what true justice is.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
When I took economics as a freshman in college, besides the supply-demand curve, I recall that most transactions and decisions we make have a cost and a benefit. Even if we decide not to do/buy something, there is a cost to that, an opportunity cost. If we choose not to have insurance, maintain equipment, or have an emergency fund, it may cost us more at a later time. When we choose not to invest time, money, or energy into the growth, development, and education of our children, ourselves, or others, we may only regret those decisions later on down the road. When we keep choosing only what benefits us instead of others in life, the outcome is fairly sad.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
When I read the above verse, I used to think that laying down one’s life meant ‘taking a bullet’ for them. It can mean this, but it can also mean living for the benefit of others instead of just myself. It can mean taking a few minutes to help someone in need even though I am running behind schedule. It can mean tough love toward a child or a friend who has trouble seeing the consequences of their actions. It can mean living a life of integrity over the years in front of those who look up to you, or to others who don’t share your faith. It can look a lot of different ways in each of our lives, but in almost every way, it looks like what Jesus would do.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:7-8
Christ is our perfect example of how to live a life of sacrifice. We may never live up to the example or notoriety of Mother Theresa, Albert Schweitzer, or others in the impact of our sacrificial living, but to those in our lives, it can make a huge impact. In our own lives, while they were not perfect, we can look to our own mother or father and consider what they gave up for our own benefit. When we look at the cross, we start to learn what true sacrifice really is. The cross serves as a reminder of what Christ did for us, of how we ought to live for others, of how selfish we can become. It reminds us that we can live for something greater than just ourselves and what is in this world. It stands in stark contrast to what the world stands for. It stands for love. What do we stand for?
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Living for Him,