I remember listening once to the morning crew of the popular Little Rock radio station B98.5 discussing the question, “In these hard economic times what is something you are not willing to give up?” Funny. I never thought of people today living in what we might legitimately call “hard economic times.” No matter how bad the economic times what are some things we are not willing to sacrifice? The calls in were interesting. People called in to say that they are not willing to give up such things as happy hour, cell phones, Starbucks, Netflix, manicures & pedicures, the Internet or HDTV. I thought, “This is sacrifice?”  My parents were children of the 1920’s and ‘30’s. They grew up during the years of the Great Depression. They knew something about lean times. The current generation has absolutely no concept of actual depravity, hardship and sacrifice. What would we do if we really and truly had to sacrifice in our secular lives?  What if we had to do without everything except the bare necessities for survival? It seems that so many people today are completely lost to the idea of any kind of real sacrifice. 

            Financial sacrifice is one thing.  Religious sacrifice is another.  Sacrifice is basic to every kind of religious system.  It was fundamental to the Patriarchal system with Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:1-4).  It was important, of course, in the Mosaic system as the smoke ascended from the tabernacle and temple as countless worshipers came to the priests with their rams, lambs and doves. There were times when God rejected the Jews’ sacrifices and offerings (Jere. 6:20; Mal. 1:6-8).

            Sacrifice is fundamental to Christianity. The Father in heaven sacrificed his only begotten Son in order that we might have the promise of eternal life through him (2 Cor. 8:9).  Jesus sacrificed his place in the bosom of the Father in order to take his place in the human family and the promise of a cross (Heb. 2:14-18; Phil. 2:5-11). Jesus called twelve men to be his apostles. These men followed Christ at great personal sacrifice. They left family, possessions, and professions in order to bring the kingdom of God into existence (Mk. 10:28-30).  Even life itself was not, to them, as precious as the gospel for which they had given all (Matt. 10:28).  I often wonder if we really know, or appreciate, the great sacrifices that were made by those of generations previous to our own who brought New Testament Christianity into our communities in this country. 

            The sacrifices of Christianity do not end with the offerings of Deity, the apostles and the pioneers.  There are sacrifices that we must make.  Some people learn the truth and obey it at the risk of being turned away by parents or a spouse.  Sometimes we, like the apostles, must face persecution for our convictions (Acts 4).  Without sacrifice we cannot be saved.  Even though God has given all for human redemption through Christ, its joys and blessings come only to those who are willing to sacrifice their will in order to do the will of God.  The rich young ruler is in Matthew’s account as an example of one who was unwilling to do that very thing (Matt. 19:16-22).  Paul, on the other hand, was one who counted all the things that were gain to him as loss for Christ (Phil. 3:7-8). The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart (Psa. 51:17).