Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son…” Genesis 22:8a
If there’s a word that entirely fails to evoke sentiments of serenity or images of lazy spring picnics beside a murmuring stream, “sacrifice” may well be it. It’s a rare Christian, indeed, who falls asleep at night dreaming of what else he may sacrifice or who wakes in eager expectation of the day’s abnegation.
We are such funny creatures…
Fifteen years ago, my husband and I chose to waive the relative ease of a dual income in order that one of us might invest more heavily in our children. As the kids grew, we opted to forego the “free” public school in favor of home education; another sacrifice of time, money, and effort. Now, in this newest season of our lives, the oldest two attend a private school, which brings with it a new kind of fiscal load. Financially, at least, we have felt called to sacrifice.
And here is why I say we are funny creatures. I need you to understand that I have not delineated areas of my own personal sacrifice in order to seek accolades, but rather in order to highlight my own laughable silliness.
You see, none of the things I have “sacrificed” were truthfully and wholly my own. Each penny my husband or I have earned was earned through talent or ability first supplied us by God. Even my body — the heart that beats, the lungs that draw breath; even the air I breathe — all are only mine in the sense that all gifts belong to the beloved.
Yet do not miss the fact that they are gifts; I neither created nor produced a single element of any of them. God, Himself, has always provided the sacrifice beginning with the very first one written of in Genesis 3:21 and continuing to this day in the lives of believers.
Thus my earlier comment that we are funny creatures. It strikes me as humorous that we would take every gift our Creator equips us with and cling to it as solemnly as if we had given it form and substance ourselves.
When I think about it, it’s more than a little amusing that I might think myself righteous when God hands me $100 and I offer Him $10 back… and in too many areas, I do not even give Him that much recognition!
With that thought it mind, let’s view a reminder from the apostle Paul:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
There is nothing we possess, not even our persons, which was not at first a Divine allowance.
However, there is One whose life truly was His own. Jesus called the Christ alone among men could claim complete possession of His life, for He did fashion the body He inhabited. He, Himself, as the agent of creation actually did call into being the air He breathed, the dust He walked in, even the tree He was slain upon.
His life was truly His own, and so His sacrifice could arguably be called the only authentic sacrifice ever offered in the entire history of mankind.
This fact is one among many reasons why His death on that cross was enough to atone for my sin — because it was complete: the sacrifice truly was His to make.
Of His own accord, He laid down a life that was thoroughly and unreservedly His. He was no mere steward but the Master, and He chose to give it all away out of sheer love for His creation.
That is why I worship Him, my friends, because when I think of the unimaginable humility of my Lord in paying my ransom, I know that He is absolutely worthy of my adoration. His very act of abasement places His gift of salvation so far above my own most noble and heroic efforts as to reveal mine for what they are–filthy rags.
When I stop to think of all He has provided, the proportionally minuscule amount He requires me to give back no longer looks much like a sacrifice. Instead, I feel more like a child hoping to make my Father smile with a gift, absurdly unconscious of the fact that my gift is one He bought and paid for Himself.
O my God, thank You for your mercy and grace and for Your true sacrifice on behalf of one so unworthy as me!
…And I myself have given it to you all so that atonement may be made for your souls on the altar, since the blood itself makes atonement through the life that is in it.
Leviticus 17:11b, ISV