Does Loving God Require Sacrifice? (Y1.T2.D16)
Unsplash; "Artem Kovalev"
Up to this point in our Bible reading, I have emphasized what Jesus deemed the first and greatest commandment: "to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Deuteronomy 6:5).
I've also referenced Jesus' instruction: "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
So isn't obedience and mercy enough?
The answer is: No.
When I read and accept the totality of God's Word, loving God still requires self-sacrifice. Jesus came into the world out of love (John 3:16). And connected to that love is to yield my wants to his will. Consider three things Jesus expects us to sacrifice in today's passages alone:
Possessions: "Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses." (Luke 12:15)
Family Approval: "For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Matthew 10:35)
Life: "He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39)
Loving God requires giving up the life I want for the life he has planned for me—without compromise. If we as people don't want wishy-washy love, neither does God want that kind of love from me. Remember in Revelation 3:15–16 God said: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth."
Now there is good news in all of this. Most of us don't live in a region where physical death for our faith is required. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't lay our plans and desires on the altar of God because: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. O God, you will not despise a broken and contrite heart" (Psalm 51:17).
Through sacrifice, we serve a God who has great plans and thoughts for us ( Jeremiah 29:11), and when we give he generously replenishes our needs over and above—"pressed down, shaken together, running over" (Ephesians 3:20).
I Give My Life to You
40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. He who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 Whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40–42)
10 Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, don’t be anxious how or what you will answer, or what you will say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what you must say.”
13 One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 15 He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.”
16 He spoke a parable to them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man produced abundantly. 17 He reasoned within himself, saying, ‘What will I do, because I don’t have room to store my crops?’ 18 He said, ‘This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 I will tell my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?’ 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”(Luke 12:10–21)
34 “Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)
49 “I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled. 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division. 52 For from now on, there will be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. (Luke 12:49–52)
1 Misery is mine!
Indeed, I am like one who gathers the summer fruits, as gleanings of the vineyard:
There is no cluster of grapes to eat.
My soul desires to eat the early fig.
2 The godly man has perished out of the earth,
and there is no one upright among men.
They all lie in wait for blood;
every man hunts his brother with a net.
3 Their hands are on that which is evil to do it diligently.
The ruler and judge ask for a bribe;
and the powerful man dictates the evil desire of his soul.
Thus they conspire together.
4 The best of them is like a brier.
The most upright is worse than a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen,
even your visitation, has come;
now is the time of their confusion.
5 Don’t trust in a neighbor.
Don’t put confidence in a friend.
With the woman lying in your embrace,
be careful of the words of your mouth! (Micah 7:1–5)
7 But as for me, I will look to Yahweh.
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)
37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me. 38 He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me isn’t worthy of me. 39 He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. He who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. (Matthew 10:37–41)
1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But he answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 In the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but you can’t discern the signs of the times! 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there will be no sign given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 16:1–4)
I present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You, which is my spiritual service. I don’t want to conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind, so that I can discern Your good, well-pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:1–2). I want Your favor over the favor of those around me. I'd rather please You. If I only please people, I'm not Your servant (Galatians 10:1). I know this won't be easy, so I'm praying for the Holy Spirit to help me as You promised he would (John 14:16).
Is this the first time you're reading a blog from The Mosaic Bible Experience? Click to learn more.
To receive more content, remember to click Like and Subscribe.