“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”
While we do not offer burnt sacrifices today, we still offer sacrifices to God in the context of our time, choices, and money.
It is very easy to get caught up in what we have given up for someone or something. A dangerous practice for sure in marriage.
This seems to be especially true when it comes to God. How many testimonies have you heard where the person lists all the things they did before giving their lives to Christ. On the one hand, this is fine as it highlights the value of Christ and the life change He brings. On the other, one can too quickly become focused on the sacrifices made to the point of losing focus on Christ. This leads to self-righteousness and even self-justification for bad attitudes and judgmentalism.
A focus on sacrifices made will also lead to a sense of entitlement. The idea begins to creep in that we deserve God’s blessings because of what we have sacrificed for Him. It’s not just those in full-time ministry that are prone to this. In fact, those who are working full-time and giving much time to the church also are quite susceptible to this dangerous mindset.
The root of this is selfishness. That is why the Word of God through the prophet Hosea highlighted God’s desire for us to show “love” over sacrifice. When selfishness reigns, love fades. Selfishness in the exact opposite of love. Love is focused entirely on others. Selfishness is entirely inward focused. “What about me?” “What do I get out of this?” “Look what I have given up.” “My sacrifice is great.” “I deserve more for what I have given up.” “No one knows all I have sacrificed, I deserve more recognition.” And on the list could go of attitudes and statements that reveal a heart that is turning (or turned) selfish.
When love of God is our focus, sacrifice fades.
My youngest daughter had colic for nearly four months. That was a rough time physically for us. Most nights involved much pacing and little sleep. Honestly, at the time, while it was not enjoyable, it never seemed like a big sacrifice. I knew my daughter was in pain and my love for her kept me focused on what mattered. Looking back, yes, I can call it a sacrifice as a strict definition, but kept it from being about me. It was always and will always be about my daughter and what she ws going though and needed at the time.
Of course, we have often heard that our sacrifice can never measure to Christ’s sacrifice for us. While true, it still focuses on the wrong thing. Love is to be the deciding factor. Love is the reason. It is the difference. Love makes it possible. Love is never about self.
Have you seen this play out in your life? What insight do you have on this?