The word “sacrifice” conjures up mental pictures of bloody altars and death-cries of animals;
a young family waving to a tearful friends and family as they set sail for an unknown, dangerous land;
a prison cell; suffering public humiliation and persecution;
being speared to death; beheaded; shot — by the very people they had come to help;
That’s not an incorrect picture. But when I decided to actually look up the definition, I found something interesting . . .
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. Psalm 116:17
When I am hurt, stressed, upset, angry, (insert current emotion here), do I go to God first? Do I thank Him for His love for me, His care for me, His knowledge of my circumstance? Or do I run to facebook to register my complaint (or twitter), or to pinterest to lose myself and escape, or to food or tv to escape?
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy! Psalm 107:22
Is my agenda more important than God’s agenda? How do I deal with “divine interruptions?”
With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. Psalm 54:6
Would I rather hold on to my hurts and wounds and offenses, or am I willing to give them to God as the Righteous Avenger (not me), and forgive as Christ has forgiven me?
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:23
A thankful spirit is God-glorifying. An honest desire to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, strength and my neighbor as myself (see Mark 12:28-31) is attractive and winsome.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, 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
Here’s the kicker for me. I have found that I really do value my physical health. I value it even more since I haven’t had it for years. I miss “the old days.” I miss being able to sing; to swim; to hike; to go to concerts, or the park, or shopping, or out to dinner (I could go on, but you get the idea).
But I want Jesus more. He, as my Master, has the right to do whatever He wants with what belongs to Him (see Matthew 20). If His strength is better shown in my weakness rather than my health, then that’s what I want, too. And when I don’t want it, the “want to” is what I pray for . . .
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:15,16
Wanting Jesus more — considering Jesus more valuable — is why:
a Sudanese woman would rather face a death sentence than recant her faith;
five young men would be willing to be speared to death to bring the gospel to a people who had never heard;
a pastor would be willing to relinquish his job and consent to only making minimum wage for the rest of his life rather than recant his conviction on life;
why a couple nearing retirement age would choose to move back to the Brazilian jungle and live among the people they have spent most of their adult lives teaching about God and His love;
a man would sell his motorcycle in order to pay for a bulk mailing to invite people to hear the gospel;
a woman would give the money she had saved to insulate her floors so someone else could avoid foreclosure because of a job loss;
This is just a small example of the myriad ways that we can esteem Jesus as more worthy. It’s a good question to ask — do I want Jesus more than _________?