Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘serving God’

Sacrifice

“Sacrifice” is a word often used nowadays to speak of giving up something for a greater cause.  Examples would be military heroes who gave up their lives or health for the sake of their country, or people who give up some financial or lifestyle advantage for the sake of what they see as higher priority.

“Sacrifice” in the Bible always refers to gifts given to God, or to false gods, in worship.  In Old Testament times, people would bring an animal to God to be slaughtered and often burned entirely.  Grain offerings would accompany these gifts.  But these were external acts that could be done regardless of one’s attitude toward God.  Often, via the His prophets, God insisted that he doesn’t want people’s sacrifices of cattle, sheep, grain, etc. so much as he desires their obedience…

Since Jesus has come and has become the ultimate and final sacrifice to put us right with God (Hebrews 9:26), we might think that sacrifice is a thing of the past.  And so it is, if we’re speaking of the kind of sacrifices described above.  However, the following “sacrifices” are listed in the New Testament as appropriate and necessary gifts to God from His people:

Our bodies 
       …present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1 NET)  Contrary to public opinion, my body is not my own!  (See also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Our faithful service to God 
      But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. (Philippians 2:17 NLT)

Our support of those who are spreading God’s message
     …the gifts you sent…are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18 NIV)

Praise to God 
     …let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NLT)

Doing good and sharing with others 
     And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. (Hebrews 13:16 NLT)

God’s “Secret Service”

Did you know that God has “secret service”?  No, it’s not a team of armed men protecting Him.  (Peter, Jesus’ only self-appointed protector, proved that his aim was pretty bad.)  The “secret service” that Jesus recruits is all about our serving Him without calling attention to ourselves.  In Matthew 6 this principle is applied to giving, prayer, and fasting.  The key is motivation:  If my reason for doing things like this is human approval, they’re worthless in God’s eyes and I get no reward from Him.  What brings God’s approval is acts of “secret service” meant for His eyes only. 

Matthew 5:16 seems at first to contradict this because there Jesus tells us, “let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”!  The difference, I think, is motivation:  If I am doing it for God and others just happen to observe, God is glorified and pleased.

One more thing about “secret service.”  Those who guard important officials are focused on the welfare of the one they are assigned to protect—even if it costs their own lives.  In this way, my service for God IS like that:  My life is to be all about Him, no matter what happens to me.

…everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ … I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  (Philippians 3:7, 13)

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