Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Hebrews 13:15-16 NLT
For many years, I interpreted sacrifice to mean something I gave at great cost to myself. If I gave a financial contribution to an offering beyond what I could afford, then this was a sacrifice. Or going out of my way to support someone. At the same time I experienced a surge of well-being for the “good” I felt I was doing. Contemplating the death of Jesus, God’s great sacrifice of himself, I couldn’t imagine Jesus feeling any self-congratulatory glow. I recognised the danger that even a well-intentioned sacrifice can be all about me and the feedback I receive.
It is difficult to navigate the Christian life with ministry, profile, invitations to Christian events, without a sense of pride. Jesus was led from the moment of God’s affirmation at baptism into the wilderness. It is to the wilderness we must return when tempted to pride ourselves on our sacrifice. This landscape is without evident signposts and we learn to listen for and follow the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12, NKJV) of God to find our way through difficult terrain.
As we all discover, our minds raise questions over the value of our chosen direction of travel. It is good that there are no objective measures to establish the significance of your or my contribution in God’s world. But that is not the basis upon which God loves me. The lack of feedback can prove one silence too many, but learning to live the calling that we have chosen will involve sacrifice. I celebrate the opportunity my calling gives me to pray and practically encourage whoever I meet.
It’s important to turn your gaze from yourself to God. Even when you feel lost or alone in the wilderness, give yourself to God; this is a worthy gospel sacrifice.
Have you unresolved questions about the direction of travel you have chosen?
Help me to turn my eyes from myself to you, from the desire of the praise of others and to rest in your loving acceptance.