Self vs. Sacrifice

I read a blog recently about sacrifice and the lack thereof in the society we live in today. I was convicted as I read it because I realized, “how often do I really and truly live sacrificially?” It really started me thinking and I wanted to share my thoughts here.

We’re told from a very young age in our culture to “follow your dreams,” but we’re hardly ever, if at all, told to sacrifice for others. We’re taught to go after, with tenacity, the things and the lifestyle that we want, but we’re almost never encouraged to sacrifice courageously—to give up ourselves, the things we love, or the wants we have for the sake of another. Somehow, that “follow your dreams” mentality has lead to a “me” focused society. It’s all about me, what I want, what my desires are.

In the blog that I read, the writer had done an internet search about our me-first society and found the following statements:

• YOU don’t need anyone’s permission to do what is right for YOU.
• I just do what I want. It’s not about what people are saying. It’s about ME.
• Do YOUR thing and don’t care if they like it.
• If YOU don’t go after what YOU want, YOU’LL never have it.
• I’m going to do what I want, when I want, how I want, and you can’t do anything to stop me.

We’ve willingly received the lie that it’s all about me. We often plan our futures and plot to reach our goals and dreams without ever consulting the Lord or looking to see how our decisions and actions will affect those around us. What if part of His plan for us is for us to live and love sacrificially? I can pretty much guarantee you it is. Christ sacrificed Himself for us, and through His Word, we know that He calls us to sacrifice as well.  “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11, NASB

  • God calls us to sacrifice for Him, to give up our selfish/self-focused ideas and plans and seek His ways.   Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB
  • He calls us to love our spouses sacrificially.   Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. ~Ephesians 5:25, NASB
    Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. ~Ephesians 5:22, NASB
  • He calls us to love our brothers and friends sacrificially.  This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. ~John 15:12-13, NASB
  • He even calls us to love sacrificially those whom we don’t know or those who may not love us in return.   You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? ~Matthew 5:44 & 46, NASB

We’re often bothered by this concept of giving ourselves up to the Lord, of giving up our own self-focused plans for His plans. We think it might be a burden to do so or that it might make us feel trapped. We think our freedom comes in following after “me, myself, and I”, in doing whatever “I” want or whatever makes “me” feel good. But it’s actually quite the opposite. Following after “me” leads to destruction. There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. ~Proverbs 16:25, NASB. True freedom comes in following after the Lord. It’s actually freeing, liberating to not follow after “me” and “whatever makes me happy.” Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. ~Matthew 11:29-30, NASB.

Following after God brings so much of a deeper satisfaction than seeking after my own selfish desires or what makes me “feel good” for the moment can bring. Trust me, I know. I’ve lived both ways. Following after “me” only takes me so far into the realm of satisfaction and contentment. And it only lasts so long before it just doesn’t fulfill me anymore. But following after the Lord changes the game. As I seek Him, draw closer to Him, His desires/His plans become mine. The work He is doing and joining Him where He is at work become the desires of my heart, and my deepest satisfaction is met in following Him and in pursuing His plans. It’s satisfaction that following MY dreams just can’t duplicate or compete with. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. ~Psalm 37:4-5, NASB. That contentment and satisfaction is something that is so hard to explain, to put into words just how deep it is, just how satisfactory it is. It goes soul/spirit deep and seeps into all areas of my life, of me. Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” ~John 4:13-14, NASB.

As our desires become His desires, we can be certain that He will accomplish them. They’re His will, His plan. We don’t have to wonder if they’ll happen. O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. ~Isaiah 25:1, NASB.   Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. ~1 Corinthians 15:58, NASB.   Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. ~Proverbs 16:3, NASB.  He will accomplish His perfect plan.

What/who are you following after today? Are you chasing after “me” dreams or “God” dreams?

We have a choice in the direction we go—whether we will follow the world and culture we live in that points us in the direction of all things “me” related or seek after and live sacrificially for His kingdom.

Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve . . . yourself or the Lord? I encourage you—be intentional and be real in the choices you make. This is where my heart is now—trying to live each day with the mindset that “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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