I am glad that the Lutheran ladies chose “love” for our first theme. The more I think about love, the more I see how it informs every part of Christian life, and every Christian concept. Last month, a quote by Martin Luther reminded me that love should interpret the law; this month, I am thinking about how love should motivate sacrifice.
The dictionary defines sacrifice as giving something up, usually for a better cause. Many of us have given up our time and disposable income in the present so that we can graduate from college, start a business, or buy a home in the future. This kind of sacrifice is essentially selfish because we are the ones who will benefit. We may also sacrifice out of training or feelings of duty: for example, giving time and money to the church or participating in community service because we’ve been taught it’s the right thing to do. We might sacrifice for our family members or friends because we love them, but Jesus tells us “even the tax collectors”(Matt. 5:46) do this.
Christians are called to a different kind of sacrifice. One Christian author calls it “love without recompense,” or you might say, “love without any thought of reward.” This is what the apostle Paul means when he says we must be “a living sacrifice.”(Romans 12:1). This chapter goes on to tell us exactly what that kind of sacrificial living means: humility, willingness to use our gifts to help the Church and genuine love for others, including our enemies and those who mistreat us. Christ, as always, is our model.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
The season of Lent is a time when we think of sacrifice, maybe even giving something up for a time. I challenge you (as I challenge myself) to examine your motives: Why am I sacrificing this? Who does this sacrifice really benefit? Is love my motive?
Send me your thoughts and comments, and tell me what you are sacrificing during Lent.