Sacrifice. It’s a difficult word, isn’t it? When I hear that word, I think of giving something up that is important to me…. maybe something that I enjoy, a behavior that makes me comfortable, a person that I love.
Yet, sacrifice is exactly what Jesus asks us to do in order to follow him. And, how can we deny Him? After all, he made the ultimate sacrifice for us when he died on the cross, taking the punishment we deserved and forgiving us of our sins.
I can better understand why we have to be ready to make sacrifices for Jesus when I think about my relationship with my husband. I want to come first to him (after God, of course). I don't care if he still watches football, spends time at his art desk or spends an afternoon on his own, doing his own thing. Those are all things he enjoys. However, if he started putting those things before me on his list of priorities, I'd have a real problem with that!
So, what is it that God wants us to sacrifice? Everything. Does that mean that we have to physically give everything away, isolate ourselves from the people and places we love? Not necessarily. But we do have to have a heart that is ready and willing to part with anything in order to make room for Him.
Look at the example of Abraham. God asked him to sacrifice his precious son, the child that Abraham had been promised. When Isaac was bound on the altar and Abraham held the knife in his hand, it was evident that he was ready to let go of the single most important thing in his life in obedience to God. And, the Lord not only provided a ram for the sacrifice, he also blessed Abraham abundantly.
In the New Testament, we see people leaving many things to follow Jesus. Andrew and Simon Peter left their nets…their livelihood. James and John left their boats and their father…giving up not only their work, but leaving their family as well. Nathaniel left the comfort and safety of his fig tree to follow the Lord. Matthew left his sinful and greedy ways as a tax collector.
So, what are you still holding on to? What thing is it in your life that is stopping you from fully giving your heart to God? Ask God to clearly show you the things that you still put before him. Then pray that He’ll give you the strength and courage to let those things go completely.