How we view Sacrifice
This year was a big year for Marvel. The much-anticipated move Avengers Endgame was finally released. (contains spoilers) One of the most memorable scenes in the movie was when Iron Man, played by Robert Downy Jr. looks at Dr. Strange and realizes he must sacrifice his life to save humanity. Eventually, he does sacrifice himself and dies. The scene itself was very sad and brought many to tears and knowing that the ironic character “Iron Man” would never be seen again in the Marvel cinematic universe made it harder to swallow. However the actor himself, Robert Downy Jr would reap the praise for the way he portrayed the character for the past 10 years and for sacrifice me made in the movie. Too often this is how sacrifice is viewed. I, myself am guilty of this. I see how sacrifice is portrayed in a movie and the nostalgia it creates within me and I connect that feeling sacrifice itself. So when I sacrifice and it doesn’t feel good, I stop and only sacrifice when it feels good, looked impressive or when it’s convenient.
In light of this, I went to God’s word to see what sacrifice looks like and what it feels like. In John 3:16 it says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “ I then went to see how Jesus responded to this sacrifice he was about to make. Luke 22:24 says “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Sacrifice was something he knew would be uncomfortable and unpleasant. It wasn’t going to be glorious nor would he receive a good Rotten Tomatoes score. He knew God could not look on sin and he would be taking on the sin of the world. Therefore at the moment, he would be apart from God. Never having done that before had to be hard. So sacrifice isn’t supposed to feel pleasant. It won’t feel enjoyable. So often we avoid sacrifice because we cannot receive immediate gratification or any at all. Christ had to do this knowing many would not even care for the sacrifice he made. Could you still give knowing many would never care?
What can we expect in return
With that being said. should we be expecting to receive something for sacrificing? Based on Christ did, I’d venture to say no. Christ did what he did not only because he loved us but because we had no means of redeeming ourselves. If we could not afford the debt to begin with but were required to pay it back we would technically still be in debt. Hence the phrase “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”. God did what he did through Christ because we could not do it ourselves and could never repay him. I find it interesting how we can see what Christ has done and in the same breath sacrifice out of convenience, pride, clout or recognition. Christ says when we do things for recognition that will be our reward. We shouldn’t sacrifice because we want to. We sacrifice because we need to and God requires it of us.
Sacrifice Impacts how we love
When we sacrifice for the wrong reason we never fully give our all. We simply do just enough to satisfy our ego and stop. Early in my marriage, even recently at times, I do things for selfish reasons. There was a time when my wife asked me to help clean up around the house more. So I said “Sure hon anything for this family”, but what my heart was saying (and I’d find out later), “When I need you to do something in think will help the family I expect the same response.” Now it was a sacrifice for me to help more around the house. She homeschooled and I worked 10–12 hours a day. I’d come home exhausted and help. (side note: Now that I have homeschooled, I know now being home with kids all day is more exhausting than leaving the house and coming back.) So I did more and then I’d make a request just to exercise what I thought was my right. Many times I’d get a “No”. Little by little my attitude and resentment began to impact how and what I did. Even how I interacted with my wife. The problem? I expected to be rewarded for a sacrifice. We must know and realize the one that sacrifices does not receive a reward from those they sacrificed for. Our reward is from God. When we seek for man to reward us we will be disappointed every time without fail. We must love and give as God did. Unconditionally. He didn’t allow Christ to die only for those who are saved, he died for everyone, so everyone would have to same opportunity to experience his love, grace, and forgiveness.
Sacrifice Deepens our love for Christ
As I practice sacrificing each day as Christ did, I find myself understanding more of what he went through for me. As I parent my kids I understand and see how God loves me. Knowing I would doubt God, commit adultery with sin, put the creation before the creator, disobey boldly or deny his presence in my life fully because I think I know more at times, he still chose to give his son for me. He didn’t sacrifice because I earned it, or because he felt sorry. He felt and feels a genuine steadfast love toward me. This will help me to sacrifice simply because his love for me makes me want to serve him more. The more we sacrifice, the more things that bothered us won’t anymore. It is a habit that is rooted in self-discipline through Gods holy spirit. We must know that God will give to us because we gave without expecting and he loves a cheerful giver. We don’t give because we have extra to give. We give because God gave to us. We love because love us first. “Pay it forward.” I want to encourage you to review how to look at sacrifice and if you reciprocate what Christ did for you on Calvary. What does it mean to you and how have you portrayed it in comparison to Christ?