« They exceeded our expectations by first dedicating themselves fully to the Lord and then to us, according to God’s pleasure. » (2 Corinthians 8:5, Passion)
It was Monday morning on a farm in the mid-west when an 8 year old boy sat down to eat breakfast with his father. Pondering the message he had heard at Sunday school the day before, he said to his father: Dad, what’s the difference between a sacrifice and an offering? The father put down his newspaper, thought for a moment and said: Look down at your plate and tell me what you see. The boy looked down and said: Bacon and eggs. The father said, You see son, the chicken gave an offering. The pig made a sacrifice!
In Paul’s second letter to the Christians at Corinth one of his objectives was to collect an offering to hep the Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering through a terrible drought. To provoke their faith he told of the Christians in Macedonia who, despite their great poverty, gave a sacrifice. It was a sacrifice for several reasons: 1) It came out of their personal desire to give, and was not forced upon them; 2) Their deep love for God produced in them a deep concern for God’s people; 3) They didn’t allow themselves to be hindered by their personal limitations. Whereas most churches gave an offering, Macedonia gave a sacrifice.
It is always inspiring to see the sacrifices a parent will gladly endure to insure his or her child’s success. It is truly the spirit of sacrifice that makes one of the main differences between a real family and an orphanage.
As Christians we must understand that a local church is NOT built with offerings. Yes, offerings of time, money and resources can provide wonderful worship, inspirational preaching, flashy advertising, well-run programs, and numerous paid staff. But you don’t even need the Holy Spirit to have these things. The true Church of Jesus Christ that produces authentic disciples, is built upon the same spirit that led Jesus to the cross, the spirit of sacrifice.
ACTION POINT: Renounce the religious leaven that seeks to gain God’s favor by giving offerings. In the house, decide today to move beyond the mentality of offerings to the mentality of sacrifice. In your personal relationship with God, commit yourself to go beyond the offering mentality into the sacrifice mentality. Finally, recommit yourself to be a part of those people willing to sacrifice yourself so that the ministry of the church can increase to have a far greater impact in your city and your region.
PRAYER TARGET: Ask the Lord to reveal to you the full extent of His sacrifice and to help you cultivate that same determination in your heart.
The word « sacrifice » always makes me think of two things : the way Jesus willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice on the cross (John 10:17-18), and the words of Paul to the Christians in Rome : « I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. » I think that getting out of your pajamas and standing up to praise the Lord is one way of offering your body as a sacrifice today.