We can best define sacrifice in this context as surrendering the mind, body, and soul to the living God, not for profit or recognition but the love of the Lord and His creation. "Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find" (Proverbs 20:6)? Many persons' intentions are good, but their love is shallow. Paul says it like this: "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3). So, you see, you can sacrifice your life and gain nothing when you do it to be seen or for earthly rewards.
Matthew sums it up in this manner: "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others" (Matthew 6:2). When you do it for recognition, you get your reward from people. Be careful not to perform your work and deeds to be seen. If we give away all we own and do not love God or our brothers, it profits us nothing. When we make godly choices, like keeping His commandments, we understand how love benefits us.
Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). So, we demonstrate our willingness to be a living sacrifice by choosing to obey the Lord and thus showing our love. My feelings may scream for recognition from people, but I must resist those feelings. You may feel like hating someone because they are different but resist. Even when fear enters our minds, we must force ourselves to choose to obey and follow the Lord. Trust God like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and shake off feelings that are not congruent with God's will.
For example: If we sacrifice our body for a relationship based solely on sexual feelings, the commitment is fragile, and the sacrifice is temporary. It is like building a house on sand and waiting for the tides to wash it away. A sacrifice based on earthly and materialistic values will fall into ill-repute. We are free spirits and God is sovereign; so, we can use our gifts without showing love. For example, we can be mean-spirited and serve on the hospitality committee or as an usher.
There are many pretenders in all walks of life. However, those who make the ultimate sacrifice reflect God's love in all they do. Today we find some people are more interested in power then in sacrificing for the good of the entire body. Do not be deceived, some people have misplaced priorities. Thank God that His love for us is greater than our love for Him and our obedience to His commands. Thank God for His patience and for giving us all an opportunity to love Him sincerely and keep His commandments.
Minister Nettie Pennington, Associate Minister, Springfield MB Church