My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
— John 15:12–13
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
— Romans 12:1
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
— John 3:16
When I think of sacrifice, I often think of my parents. They loved my brothers and me so much that they continually sacrificed their own needs in order to meet ours. Now that I am a wife and mother, I realize even more how much they sacrificed because it is in my heart to do the same for my family. However, this kind of sacrificial love isn’t reserved for our family alone. It’s meant to be the posture of our hearts toward all the people God has placed in our lives.
The word sacrifice implies giving something that costs the giver in terms of talent, time, treasure, or even ourselves. It isn’t popular and it promises to be painful, but as spiritually-minded women, we know this to be the foundation of our faith.
In the Old Testament, sacrifice was a part of everyday life. In those times, the people sacrificed animals to atone for their sins. In the New Testament, God did away with the old system and modeled sacrifice by giving His one and only Son so we would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
This kind of sacrifice is beyond our human comprehension, but God gave because He loved us. He was willing to be separated from His Son Jesus temporarily so we wouldn’t have to be separated from Him eternally.
Jesus also sacrificed, giving His own life on the cross for our sins. He endured the unspeakable shame and pain of crucifixion because He loved us. Because Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice, we no longer have to sacrifice animals on the altar. Now, sacrifice is on the altar of our hearts and by the work of our hands. Out of gratitude, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices for His service (Romans 12:1).
After all, if Jesus sacrificed for us, shouldn’t we sacrifice for others? While Jesus doesn’t intend for us to die for our friends in a literal sense, He does intend for us to lay aside our own selfish desires and put the needs of others first. This may mean sacrificing your sleep, resources, tastebuds, comfort, wishlist, hobbies, timeline, likes, dislikes, recognition, rewards, or other things you might find hard to give up.
In our humanness, this sacrificial lifestyle seems daunting as it goes against our natural inclinations. No matter how intentional and mindful we try to be, the truth is, we are incapable of living like this on our own. Because Jesus knew this, in yet another act of love, He sent the Holy Spirit to help us. He enables and empowers us to take up our cross daily, follow Him, and offer our love sacrificially to others, just as He did for us.
As we rely on God’s strength and offer our love, let’s not lose sight of the eternal impact our sacrifice can have. He sacrificed so we could be with Him for all of eternity. Could our sacrifice lead others to join Him in eternity as well? I don’t know about you, but I think that is worth sacrificing for.
Who needs God’s love expressed through you today? Write down the name of someone you can serve and schedule time to make it happen. Pray for the strength and discipline to act selflessly and sacrificially toward that person.
Lord, thank You for Your never-ending love. May I never forget the magnitude of Your sacrifice on the cross for me. Fill me with Your love so I may love those around me as You have loved me. Help me to lay down my own selfish desires and notice the needs of others. Help me sacrificially show them Your love with all I am—my talents, my time, and my treasures. Amen.
Talk It Over:
Who has modeled sacrificial love in your own life, and who do you feel God is leading you to love sacrificially today?