Posts Tagged ‘ Sacrifice ’

Love Like Jesus Loved

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 NRSV

MP900399820[1]A week or two ago I was talking to a colleague about ways I could help a student in one of my classes. The response from my colleague was, “Be careful, no good deed goes unpunished.” I had never heard that phrase before. Do good deeds end up being punished?

Good deeds often involve acts of mercy. Merciful acts can be quite loving and beautiful acts of charity. Jesus’ self-sacrificing decision to come to earth, so that we might live, was certainly a great act of mercy.

MP900400146[1]Still, it did not go unpunished. Instead of being welcomed, Jesus found himself the target of religious hatred, and the innocent victim of humankind’s depraved indifference to God. His good deed was punished by death.

Knowing how it would all turn out, did Jesus turn away from God’s calling? Of course not. He continued to follow God faithfully, even to the cross.

The problem is, we are not Jesus. When faced with an opportunity to show mercy, we sometimes shy away from paying the price. We would rather avoid the problems and pain that come with love. We take the road that is less rocky, and less difficult.

Jesus warned against putting our hands to the plow and looking back. For those who would follow Jesus Christ, our call to love must trump the sometimes painful and difficult sacrifices that come with living like Jesus lived. Doing what Jesus asks of us isn’t always the most logical decision, or easiest thing to do. But it is the wise thing!

MP900178883[1]I am not Jesus. But like you I want to become more like him. Why not join me in asking God for the wisdom and grace to love more like Jesus loved, no matter what the consequences may be.

Painful Sacrifice or Loving Opportunity?

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NRSV

One of the sadder encounters Jesus had was when a certain ruler asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This man seemed to be a pretty good guy. He had done most everything right. He followed the commandments and lived a godly life. I imagine he just wanted a little encouragement from Jesus. He wanted to be told that he was on the right track, and that he should stay the course.

Jesus did tell him that he was on the right track and done pretty well. But staying the course was not what Jesus wanted. Jesus wanted this rich young ruler to make a major change. He wanted him to use all his wealth to bless the poor and needy.

MP900384779[1]Apparently that was too much to ask. That was more than he was willing to do. That was a sacrifice just too big to make.

I’m sure this ruler must have walked away discouraged. He must have thought about how painful such a sacrifice would be, and how unfair it was that Jesus asked him to do all that.

But Jesus didn’t ask him to make a sacrifice. Jesus asked him to take what he had and to use it to love the unloved and forgotten. Jesus wanted this young man to seize the day, and take hold of a once in a lifetime opportunity. He asked him to do something remarkable that demonstrated what God’s extravagant love could do in a faithful believer’s life.

MP900385339[1]I think if the young ruler could have seen it that way, he might have been more willing to step forward and respond. But he didn’t. He just saw it as a painful sacrifice, decided to hold onto his money, and missed his big chance to stand with Jesus.

The story reminds me of times when opportunities came my way that felt more like painful sacrifices. In those times I remember thinking more about what I had to give up, than what I could do as a co-laborer with Christ. Having to endure discomfort and make some big sacrifices often made me less willing to respond. But in the end, God’s gentle and consistent nudging always remind me of the privilege I have to share in God’s work, and to be a living witness for Jesus Christ.

From those times, I’ve learned that wise people count the cost, but they don’t let the cost keep them from loving God and serving Jesus Christ. They accept the sacrifice, and step forward in faith to seize the opportunities God places before them each and every day!