Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sacrificial Giving

This morning in preparation of Thanksgiving, I have been reminded of sacrifices.  The first groups that come to mind as an American are our men and women in the armed forces and their families.  We are so thankful for their personal, daily sacrifices (and should take the time to tell and show them!). 

As Christians, the overwhelming sacrifice we think of regularly is that of Jesus Christ, God as man, God taking His own wrath for my sin.  No sacrifice can compare to Jesus' humble, total, torturous gift of Himself on my behalf.

But if, in our Christian walk, we think of Christ likeness as gentleness, patience, and love apart from personal loss, we have lost focus.  Being like Christ is to put off my personal reputation and walk in obedience regardless of others' acceptance.  Being like Christ is to represent God at all times in all places verbally and actually.  Being like Christ is to submit to all authority with meekness.  Being like Christ is to bear the misunderstandings of others.  Being like Christ is to challenge that which is man-centered and self-centered and put it in the perspective of God, and God alone.

In this way, through daily, moment by moment dependence I become a living sacrifice.  My life, my thoughts, my actions, my choices are each offered to God as a gift.  "Is this what you would have me do, Lord?"  "Is this what you would have me speak?"  "Is this what you would have me give?"  The moments of my day then become a conversation with God.  I become that living sacrifice, a purchased gift with a specific purpose  (Romans 12:1, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

But what do I do when the cost is too great?  When God challenges my reason, my rights, my needs?  A dear friend shared this verse which resonates with me even as I consider giving the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  "God is the LORD, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar" (Psalm 118:27).  Sometimes, realistically, I can't give thanks.  Sometimes, realistically, I can't give God the obedience He desires.  Most of the time, realistically, I don't want to.  And this verse has become a repeated prayer, "Lord, if you must, bind me to the horns of the altar."  Only God can give me the motivation, the love, and the obedience that is required to please Him (Philippians 2:13, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Hebrews 11:6).  In giving to God what is His due there is peace and joy--not because God wins and I lose.  If that is my view of Christian service, I do not know the true and living God.

God loves me infinitely, purely, wholly.  In doing what He commands I fulfill my purpose and He receives the worth-ship that belongs to Him and Him alone.  This Thanksgiving I am praying for a more dependent, grateful attitude.  One that esteems God above all others, especially myself, even if it means tying my hands to the horns of the altar!  For "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

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