In a secular world where “me” is god and everyone else is a means to more of “me,” who wants to serve others? In a techy world where “selfies” are currency and “likes” are gold, and where academic achievement, sporting achievement, money, fame, media celebrity status, and the latest cool fashion logos have iconic status, who really cares about living sacrificially? Who really cares whether I care? What even is sacrificial living?
Sacrificial living means giving our time, talents, and resources for the benefit of others. For most of us, that will be lived out in our ordinary everyday lives, in our ordinary everyday homes, families, churches, and workplaces. It won’t make the news, and may not bring obvious reward, but it will be seen by God and will have an eternal impact on others.
God calls me to such sacrificial living. He cares about whether I care. Why? Because behind the gold, the currency, and the apparent successes, His creatures have great need: brokenness, loneliness, lostness, sickness, sadness, emptiness, helplessness, and despair. And God cares that I live sacrificially, to highlight His beautiful sacrifice, and His heart of love and care.
“But how can I sacrifice with what I don’t have?” “I have no gifts.” “I have only one gift.” “My gifts are not very impressive.” “I don’t have time.” “I can’t be a famous missionary like Amy Carmichael or a famous evangelist like John Wesley.” “I’m not a pastor’s wife.” “I’m not gifted or called to preach.” “I barely have money to survive, far less to give away.” “Everyone seems needy.” Or perhaps, “I’m already burnt out, so how can I reach out?” These challenges can be met—if we first of all grasp the essence of sacrificial living.
Sacrificial living is motivated by a love for God and gratitude for salvation, not by legalism. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). It therefore involves wholeheartedness and joy, not half-heartedness and misery. It’s driven by the concern to meet others’ needs, because Christ met my need. A sacrificial heart, driven by love to Christ can’t but want to help. A selfish heart grudges and avoids every opportunity to help. Sacrificial living is love-motivated, not law-motivated.
Sacrificial living recognizes that my gifts belong to God. Every minute, every penny, and every human interaction are His gifts. I will therefore use my ears for listening to others, my mouth for encouraging others, and my resources to practically help others. Sacrificial living makes my redeemed heart vulnerable and willing to feel the broken pain of others. It will cause me to cultivate softness and approachability, not the persona of a perfectly hard shell. Sacrificial living is therefore also costly.