Monday, March 15, 2010

NOT Me First?

Today's society has a "me first" mentality. Every time I have the television on, Loreal reminds me that "I'm worth it!" We live in a day and age where the woman who has NOT had a professional massage or pedicure is an anomaly (no judgement here, I happen to love both of those services and a couple others). Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with messages (and just a general mindset) of "me, me, me, me." I deserve to be happy!

However, the Bible's message speaks in drastic contrast to the message of society...

To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. ~Luke 6:29-30 Msg
When I see some jerk one who has treated me badly getting their due, should I be happy with their suffering or if [my] enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink? (Romans 12:20a)

How about if I have one of those friends that we all call a "taker?" You know the relationship - one friend is always making the phone calls, arranging time together, helping the other, nursing the other through crises; the other friend never calls unless s/he needs something, can't be bothered to spend time together unless it suits him/her, isn't available for the first friend's times of crisis... The world would tell me to give up, get rid of that friend, move on and find someone who will make the relationship mutually beneficial. The Bible tells me to give to everyone who asks of [me], and if anyone takes what belongs to me (or what I think I deserve) do not demand it back. (Luke 6:30)

When someone steals from me, should I hire a good lawyer and sue or if someone takes [my] cloak, do not stop him from taking [my] tunic? (Luke 6:29b)

If my husband has hurt me, should I, in turn, find a way to hurt him back? Or maybe just give him the silent treatment for a while? Or if someone strikes me [on] the right cheek (figuratively, of course), turn to him the other also? (Matthew 5:39)

It is totally confusing! But the Bible, in contrast to the general population of the rest of the world, seems to be telling us to put other people (even our enemies and those who have hurt us repeatedly) before ourselves. Over and over again, we find Jesus quoted instructing His followers to give up their own rights - to sacrifice. I don't know about you, but I am not particularly fond of personal sacrifice.

It was pointed out to me recently that the root word of sacrifice is sacred (thanks to Jill Savage, Real Moms Real Jesus). Being a word girl, I pulled out my thesaurus to help me understand what sacred really means: holy, blessed, revered, sanctified, consecrated. I realized that sacrificing does not simply mean "doing the right thing" out of obedience to Jesus. To sacrifice is to make myself holy. (Not to be mistaken for holier than thou!) Sacrificing by not doing what we really want to do, by putting others before ourselves, by forgiving even when we haven't been asked (and even when the person is not repentant) is more than just obedience to the Word of God - it is an act that will set me apart from this unholy world and make me sanctified...consecrated.

Personal sacrifice is more than a "What Would Jesus Do" mentality. Rather, it is a way of thinking that says, "I want to be made holy, and I am willing to put myself aside in pursuit of this holiness." Sacrifice cries out, "Purify me, Lord Jesus! Wash me clean of all my selfishness to the point that all I care about is being a beautiful representation of who You are!"

Instead of always telling my kids, "Just a minute" when they ask (the 100th time) for juice or a snack, I can sacrifice my own agenda and whatever I'm doing to immediately tend to their needs. (Maybe not always, but more often than I do.) Rather than be annoyed that someone didn't put the garbage out like he was supposed to, and make sure I let him know that he forgot, I can simply choose to take care of that task - even if it means sacrificing a few minutes of my time. When I see that girl who was mean to me for years and years, instead of stewing and brewing about her, I can sacrifice my pride and offer her a friendly greeting. I can even go so far as to sacrifice my thoughts and dedicate some precious prayers to her and her family.

Sacrifice won't be easy or comfortable. It pretty much flies in the face of societal norms. Some people may call us doormats or losers. But sacrifice will bring about a sacredness to our lives. Personal sacrifice will consecrate us for His purposes. For today, I will choose the sacred.

What about you? Is there an area in your life that you feel called to an act of sacrifice?

This post has been linked up to Rachel Olsen's devotional carnival.


  1. Sometimes I act like a child before God and complain: why do I always have to be the bigger person in every situation? why can't other people think before they speak, then you won't have to convict me on what I'm thinking about saying in response?

    I feel God calling me to a higher level of sacrifice. Mainly to set aside pride, and put down the weight: desire to please my flesh or blend in with the world.

    Your post made me think, sorry for the super long response!

  2. You gave it to us straight - and I appreciated it.

    I want to be a woman who finds the scared in the sacrifice.

    Blessings ~ Rachel


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