Pursuing Our Destiny, Part 13–The Discipline of Sacrifice
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1, ESV)
For several weeks, we’ve been looking at the disciplines of abstinence listed in Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines. We’ve thought about solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, and secrecy. Let’s think today about the last of the abstinence disciplines: sacrifice.
Paul’s appeal in Romans 12:1 calls us understand make all of life a sacrifice. Dr. Willard helps us understand the discipline of sacrifice with this explanation: The discipline of sacrifice is one in which we forsake the security of meeting our needs with what is in our hands. It is total abandonment to God, a stepping into the dark abyss in the faith and hope that God will bear us up.
The spiritual discipline of sacrifice can call to us in many different ways. God may call us to exercise the discipline with our money. He may move on our hearts to give what we can’t afford to give and trust him to provide for us. Time may be the issue. We may be called upon to give time we don’t have to give and trust God to help us get done what needs to be done. At the core of this spiritual discipline is a willingness to give ourselves first. Once the willingness issue is settled, God’s Spirit can build the discipline into our lives as he knows we most need it.
So how do we develop this discipline in our lives? Kelli Mahoney, in her blog on the spiritual disciplines suggests four things that can help us put this practice to work in each of our lives. First, she suggests that we Ask what makes you secure. Where do we find our security? What do we hold onto that seems the most difficult to give up? The answer to that question may show us where we need to begin practicing sacrifice.
Second, Ms. Mahoney invites us to Consider the impact of the sacrifice. It’s important that we don’t begin without thinking and praying. We can make emotional decisions in the “heat of the moment” that may not be God speaking to us. Taking time to discern God’s voice is important before we act.
She also asks us to Remember the ultimate sacrifice. No sacrifice God asks of us will ever be greater than his sacrifice for our salvation. While we’re not called to match his sacrifice, we are called at various times in our lives to experience sacrifice for his glory. When we’re pushed out of our comfort zones and feel the pressure of giving something up, it’s good to reflect on the price our Father paid for us.
Finally, she urges us to Admit that sacrifice isn’t easy. Like all of the disciplines, it isn’t easy; it requires effort and practice. If sacrifice hasn’t been a part of your life, you may want to start with some small things, building your faith as you go. We often learn to trust God with baby steps. Small sacrifices will build the discipline and your faith.
Like all the disciplines, we grow through practice.
I read a quote this week from Dr. Don Whitney, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He wrote, The purpose of any spiritual discipline is to be like Jesus. Practicing the discipline of sacrifice has that as its only goal: to be like Jesus—to be conformed to his image. – Pastor Strain blogs weekly for Freedom Fighter
Quote of the day: Matt Chandler: “If the gospel on the ground is the gospel at the micro level, the gospel in the air is the story at the macro level. Here we find a tour de force story of creation, fall, reconciliation, consummation —a grand display of God’s glory in his overarching purposes of subjecting all things to the supremacy of Christ. As we examine the gospel in the air, we’ll see from the scriptural testimony of Jesus’s atoning work that the gospel is not just personal, but cosmic. When we consider the gospel from the air, the atoning work of Christ culminates and reveals to us the big picture of God’s plan of restoration from the beginning of time to the end of time and the redemption of his creation. We may see the gospel extended this way in Jesus’s declaration in Revelation 21:5, that he is “making all things new.” (The Explicit Gospel)
Verse to Memorize: I rise before the dawning of the morning and I cry for help; I hope in your Word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I might meditate on Your Word. Psalm 119:147-148