Time to time, praises are given & empathy is expressed because of what I do as a vocation, and especially now that my family is preparing to move to Taiwan. People say the most wonderful & kind words to encourage my spirit and express their support.

But one concept that always makes me feel uncomfortable is the idea that I’m making sacrifices.

But what does it mean to sacrifice?

Biblically it means to lay down your life for others OUT OF LOVE. This is what Jesus did. He laid down His life for us OUT OF LOVE. There was nothing that He could’ve gained from His sacrifice. His motivation was simply LOVE.

Yes, we do serve the Lord & others out of love, but intertwined in my love are also my desire & need for Christ’s presence, His peace, love, joy & every other blessing that He pours into our lives so graciously & freely.

The truth is:

All that I am

All that I have

All that I’ve done

is because of Christ’s power & grace.

If what I gain is so much more than what I lay down, even if it’s out of the purest of motives, would that still be considered a sacrifice?

I don’t know…

I just don’t feel very sacrificial.

Please understand that I’m not trying to demean or undermine the sacrifices my fellow believers are making because what we go through at times is hard, some extremely hard. Nor am I saying that our sacrifices are miniscule compared to Jesus’ sacrifice.

All I am pointing out is that no matter what we lay down, give up or lose for the sake of Christ, what we gain in Christ is MORE, SO MUCH MORE.

Apostle Paul utters,

“What is more,

I consider everything a loss

because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,

for whose sake I have lost all things.

I consider them garbage,

that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).”

In Paul’s mind, knowing Christ outweighed everything else.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us,

For the joy set before him he endured the cross,

scorning its shame,

and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In other words, joy was the motivation & outcome of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Here lies the first gauge that can assess whether our sacrifice is indeed a sacrifice in biblical sense.

True sacrifice will lead us to joy & not misery.

The fact that others have benefitted from your act of love should bring us joy & satisfaction. Rather than being self absorbed, our eyes will be on others & how their lives have been touched & changed by our Lord, which is the second indicator.

When true sacrifice is made, the focus will not be on us, but it will be on God & our neighbors.

Even when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He prayed,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

If we have to ask or consider how great a sacrifice we are making, chances are we are not.

Sacrifice as God defines it is a fragile thing. Once “self” enters the picture, it loses its power, but when “self” is lost, that is when our sacrifices can be used by God to touch, save & bless others.