1Chronicles 11:19: and said, “Far be it from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men. (ESV)
David valued the sacrifice that these three men made to go all the way, to break through the barrier of the opposition enemy in Bethlehem to get him some water (1Chronicles 11:11-19). These people were ready to sacrifice their lives for him. He felt unworthy of such sacrifice and offered the water they brought to God. He did not take it as a matter of right but showed appreciation.
In the same way God has promised not to forget our labour of love in how we have expressed love to the body of Christ (Hebrews 6:10).
Sacrifice is the foundation of the kingdom of God. The gospel of Jesus reached you and I based on the sacrifice of those who have gone before us. It will not reach beyond us except we sow the seed of sacrifice, which will bring the harvest of transformed lives.
Jesus talked about his own sacrifice and what it will lead to. He said expect a grain of seed falls to the ground and dies it abides alone, but afterwards it brings forth much fruits (John 12:23-27). There can be no growth without sacrifice, there is the sacrifice of time and energy and other opportunity costs.
Sacrifice is about what you can commit to a course because you believe in it. Jesus said that if you do not believe enough in his cause to lay down your life (Luke 14:26), then you should not even bother tagging along to follow him, since he laid down his life.
Making sacrifices changes your commitment level. People can make verbal commitment but until it is backed with action, it is worth nothing. Abraham’s commitment to God was tested and found to be solid as a rock (Genesis 22). Job’s commitment to God was also solid. He said during his trial, after he has tried me I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).
Commitment may be tested more in bad times than good. That is why the bible says if you faint in the day of adversity, it means your strength is small (Proverbs 24:10), the strength of your commitment is small.
Eve did not sacrifice the promise of wisdom through eating the wrong fruit, so he did not express commitment to God (Genesis 3). The bible says: my son, if sinners entice you, do not consent (Proverbs 1:10). Eve allowed the influence of the devil to trump that of the word of God in her life and she entered into the judgment of death.
She could not make the sacrifice to follow God and so could not bring forth the plan of God on the earth. But Mary the mother of Jesus qualified, choosing to eat the bitter fruit of the shame being pregnant out of wedlock to become conformed to the will and word of God for her to bring forth the plan of God (Jesus) on the earth (Luke 1:38).
The selfish cannot make any sacrifice. They are tight-fisted, unwilling to give. But Jesus demands the ultimate sacrifice the giving of your life.
A man came to Jesus, asking what he should do to gain the kingdom of God. Jesus told him that he needed to obey the commandments and he said he had done everything he knows in obedience to the commandments (Mark 10:17-25).
Then Jesus said that he lacks one thing, and eventually it was disclosed that what he lacked because of which he could not gain eternal life was the spirit of sacrifice.
He was asked to sell all he had and follow Jesus, which was too much of a sacrifice to make. He was typical of the man without the Spirit.
Jesus was asking sacrifice from the man on at least three different levels: social, financial and predictability.
For that man to follow Jesus means to stop keeping his former associations. He was a ruler but if he followed Jesus he had to be a servant. He had to leave his social standing. He cannot maintain his previous cycle of friends and be able to follow Jesus.
What was demanded of him was a change of identity. But he had too much attachment to his past to give it all up. He was unlike Paul who said that though he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, a first class Israelite if ever there was one, he was willing to have a radical change of identity to become a follower of Jesus, with all the accompanying sufferings and being ostracised. He counted what was gain to him became a disadvantage so that he may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-14), that was how firmly he was attached to Christ.
Moses willingly changed his identity. The bible says that he esteemed the reproach of Christ higher that the pleasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-27).
Jesus asked the man to sell all he had and give them to the poor. A deep financial sacrifice was demanded of him. But he had great possession and was unwilling to give them up. As far as Jesus was concerned the man was the servant of the money.
Jesus said that you cannot serve two masters, because you will hate one and love the other (Luke 16:13). He said that you cannot love God and mammon. For many, financial sacrifice is the most difficult. But Jesus said: give and it shall be given to you good measure pressed down shaken together shall be poured back to your bosom (Luke 6:38).
Following Jesus means unpredictability. There was a time a man said that he wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus told him, the birds of the air have nests foxes have holes but the Son of man does not have where to put his head.
That was to impress on him the unsettled (unpredictable) nature of following him. People who are not ready to be flexible are not ready to follow God. The young ruler probably had his plans laid out before him, two-year, and ten-year plan. Therefore following Jesus with the accompanying unpredictability was too much of a bargain for the man to make. Jesus was calling him to something higher, but he’ll rather stay on the ground level, stay with the predictable.
Prayer: Help me Lord to make the necessary sacrifice for your kingdom (Matthew 20:21-22).