Perhaps this is why attitudes toward sacrifice are either poor or religious in nature. The fact that we would even consider anything God asks of us as a sacrifice speaks to our spiritual condition. It should not be a sacrifice to be generous, kind, gentle, loving, but often it is for us. It becomes an extraordinary thing we do instead of a natural part of our day. So if we have trouble with the small sacrifices in our daily walk, what happens to us when we are called upon during extraordinary times? Do we rise to the occasion or disappear within our self-centered perspective?
Where are the heroes of the literature of old? Where is a Frodo Baggins, who rose above his lot in life, leaving behind his self-centered society to lay down his life for the benefit of everyone? Forget about literature, what about people like apostle Peter, Paul, John? Where are the Stephens; those who set aside their own interest for the benefit of the whole? What about Mary? Yes, what about the woman who was asked by God to give up everything she considered ordinary and important so that Jesus, the Son of God, could enter into our history and complete his mission.
Was this a sacrifice that God asked of Mary? Of course it was. Most of us know what was at risk for her. What if her fiancee rejected her? What about when society found out and people wanted to apply the law? What about the reputation of her family? It was a huge sacrifice to ask of someone so young, but to those who love and trust our God, we know this to be a privilege not a sacrifice. This is what we find in Mary who obviously loved the LORD God with all her being. Her's was not a song of complaint or regret but one of joy and thanksgiving:
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name." (Luke 1:46-49)
We say that the Spirit Of Christmas is about giving instead of receiving, but the only sacrifice that is worth anything is what we "give unto the Lord". God has not told us to become humanistic in our attitude. He has told us to love as we have been loved; to forgive as we have been forgiven. Generosity in everything is a sure sign of someone who has given themselves fully to the Lord.
Jesus told us to not just love those who love us but to love those who hate us. The only way this is possible is when we understand that we love our God with our entire being and because of such we are loving him when we love everyone; we are giving to him when we give to others; we are serving and sacrificing to him when we serve and sacrifice for others. When we are doing these things because of God's love for us and ours for him, it is done with a genuine joy and attitude that shows we consider it a privilege.
Use this Christmas season as an opportunity to evaluate where to stand in your relationship with Jesus. What is your attitude? How self-absorbed are you? Who is shaping your perspective? Are you a Christian zombie? Or are you totally sold out to Jesus? Is it sacrifice or privilege?