I was at the pool the other day and noticed a man reading his Bible while his child was learning to swim. He wasn’t doing it to show off his spirituality. He wants to grow in faith. However, a part of me wanted to say, “Dude, go put the Bible in the locker, get on your swimming trunks and be even more a part of this moment of life with your child.” Being quick to judgment nearly cost me the opportunity to simply encourage him and later pray for him --- two things all of us should do for more people daily.
Sacrifice: A giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance. An offering to honor God. A ritually slaughtered person. In chess, an act of allowing your opponent to take one of your pieces so that you can gain an advantage. In baseball, to bunt the ball expecting to be put out, in order to advance a base runner. ---- Going to the pool to invest time with your child and reading the Bible to mature in Christ.
However you personally define sacrifice there is at least one over arching factor that is always true – sacrifice is a choice you make. It is an act of your own will. So, it is wrong to view sacrifice as something God is making you do or some kind of suffering that you can’t escape.
The other amazing characteristic of sacrifice is that there is always GAIN from sacrifice. This is the God component. It is what transforms our human and physical act into a spiritual encounter. Sometimes, because we know a bit about the nature of God, we can anticipate the gain. The adage, “no pain, no gain” means our physical sacrifice can translate into a leaner body, more defined and strong muscles, a faster race time, a new personal best, a world record and a celebrated prize. In many cases however, we will need to take a step of faith and sacrifice without fully comprehending all that is to be gained. Some of the most profound examples of sacrifice are punctuated by an eternal gain rather than an immediate benefit. When you experience sacrifice like this, the gain is something that you may not fully see in your lifetime.
This kind of sacrifice gives us a clearer view into understanding God. Consider two qualities of God as you think about sacrifice and gain. God is sovereign and God is immutable.
When we think of God as “sovereign” we think of a supreme being - above all others. Ok, that is true. But - sovereign also means being efficacious and potent. In other words, God has the power to produce the desired result in you! I’m not talking about the newest nutritional supplement that delivers amazing results or a breakthrough training technique scientifically designed to make you better faster. This sovereign God gets personal with you. This is about experiencing life daily one-on-one with the God that created you for a unique purpose. When you do that you bring value to those around you in a way that only you can.
When we think of God as “immutable” we understand that God is absolute and unchallengeable. Take that understanding beyond having well-grounded beliefs. It means not able to be forfeited. Personally seek God and pursue spiritual sacrifice. When you do, the gains are far more than a trophy or a temporary prize eventually lost to another. This is how you truly get lasting gains.
BEYOND RELIGIOUS FEEL-GOOD MARKETING – THE BIGGER PICTURE
Not long ago I was interviewed for a CNN.com article that examined how people turn to God for help with weight-loss. I believe the author of the article was genuinely good-intentioned, but the editorial approach clearly concentrated on “Christian-branded fitness products” (some of which are created with the primary purpose for making money from the Christian marketplace.) As a result of this approach, readers were not presented with a critical look at how God truly creates an intersection between faith and fitness. The result was an abundance of reader comments like the following:
And finally a rather concise summary:
Of course God is not myopic. God is the very essence of foresight and broadminded vision. God has given us physical bodies, the ability to practice self-sacrifice and the human example of Jesus Christ so that we can gain a prize that transcends our temporary existence on earth. This is a preface to sacrifice. Consult God for further details.
Train strong in Christ,
Brad Bloom, Publisher