Love Demands Sacrifice
At Thanksgiving Allison and I shared that we have known each other for 21 years. We married young, and I said Allison was so amazing I had to snatch her up quick. We were celebrating with a group of friends who happened to all be single, and so I became somewhat conscientious that comment may have caused some pain. While it has been a wonderful journey for which I am very grateful, I’m not sure it has been a journey everyone would have wanted for themselves. So much of the time I am dying to myself for Allison to succeed or have a break. Paul commanded husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the Church… laying down His life for her (Ephesians 5:25-28). This is the true nature of love… to lay down one’s life for someone else (John 15:13).
I remember early in our marriage I was feeling bad about all I was giving up for Allison. I had this list of all these things I was doing for her, and I wanted more recognition for it. My selfishness and pride was rejecting the self-sacrifice. I thought I was on good footing to express my “work,” but this conversation didn’t go as I had planned. All the focus on what I was giving up, blinded me to what Allison had given up for me. She is very detailed and surprisingly to me she had a much longer list than me. I wasn’t the only laying down their life.
Sacrifice with Joy
We can approach self-sacrifice in two ways: 1. a burden we bare or the cross we carry, or 2. the pathway to greater joy. Hebrews tells us that for the joy set before, Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). He knew His self-sacrifice was leading somewhere. It was leading to a desired end. I couldn’t see it at the time, but the joy and love I now get to experience in marriage is a result of continual and mutual self-sacrifice. There are times I still feel like I am giving up things, whether it be doing dishes, cooking, or being a stay-at-home-dad. However, as I back up and look at the big picture, I know it will all be worth it.
I know not all of you are married, but I share this because marriage is a example to the world of how Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32). As believers, we are all married to Jesus and we are called to pick up our cross and follow Him. There are times when the things He is leading us into is small deaths to our self. They could be things He is calling you to do, but they also might be letting go of our understandings and hurts. Let us get our eyes off those sacrifices, and onto the joy set before us. I promise you if you take Jesus your list of things you gave up for Him, He could give you a much larger list of things He gave up for you.
Gratitude may have gotten you to serve God, but love and relationship will keep you serving Him without you becoming bitter.
This list of things Jesus has done for you has been a starting place for many to follow hard after God. We are so grateful that we want to repay Him for some of these things. I want to suggest that this is not the motivation God wants for us. There used to be a saying in Christianity: He died for me, so I will live for Him. This is nice and succinct, but this motivational push will not keep you in the game long. Jesus didn’t say if you are grateful, you will follow Me. He said if you love me, you would obey my commands (John 14:15).
Following Jesus will be a life of sacrifice. He has called us to love, which is lived out by laying down one’s life for the other. We can do this with somber devotion, or we can keep our eyes on the joy set before us. God said for us to humble ourselves and He will lift us up (James 4:10). He said He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). He said if we loved Him, we will be loved by the Father and Jesus, and they would reveal themselves to us (John 14:21). We have a great joy set before us. We have a great deal for which to be hopeful. God is faithful, and He is for us. He is worth everything. Love may caused us to sacrifice, but let us sacrifice with joy.
Points to Consider
- What are some things you find it hard to sacrifice?
- How can love help you release them?