And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
— Mark 14:3–9
Sacrifice, when compared to the love that we have, doesn’t feel like sacrifice at all. Five years ago, my wife and I went through the adoption process to get a little girl from Ethiopia. As part of the process, we had to do a home study with a social worker, we had to fill out piles and piles of paperwork, we had to get background checks, and we had to write painfully big checks. At the end of a two-and-a-half-year period, we brought home a beautiful 6-month-old baby girl.
The funny thing about it is that, five years later, when we are asked about our adoption, we never talk about all we had to sacrifice. When asked about the adoption, never in five years, have either my wife or I talked about how much we sacrificed to get our daughter. Instead, we talk about how great our daughter has been. We talk about how much joy she has brought to our family. We talk about how we can’t even imagine life without her. The reality is whatever sacrifices we made to get her were eclipsed by the joy she has brought us.
I suspect the same thing is true in our relationship with God. While we are called to give back to God sacrificially, when compared to what we get from God, our sacrifices pale in comparison. When you really “get” the grace of God and how it’s applied to your life, whatever you give to God cannot be considered sacrifice.
Jim Elliot, an evangelical missionary, once proclaimed, “He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.” When you “sacrifice” for God, what you gain is far greater.