“I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15).

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE KIND OF THING THAT MIGHT BE “SACRIFICED” OR “GIVEN UP” FOR THE LORD’S SAKE. Think, for example, of three situations in which we might let go of something.

(1) Repentance from sin. When we turn away from any sin, we are giving up a practice that we know is displeasing to God. Depending on the sin and how long we’ve been engaging in it, it may be a hard thing to surrender, but the task is made somewhat easier when we know the thing we are giving up is evil.

(2) Giving up something that is required by God’s command. When a parent makes a financial sacrifice for his or her child, it may well be a sacrifice that involves difficulty, but it is hardly one that is optional. What is necessary may be done joyfully, of course, but even so, God’s command left very little choice about whether to do it.

(3) Voluntarily relinquishing something exceedingly good in order that someone else may have something they need. Here we come to a very different kind of sacrifice. When Jesus left heaven to come and die for us, He gave up things the goodness of which we can only imagine. But let us keep our thinking clear: the things the Lord gave up were not sinful things that needed to be given up, nor were they things He was under any obligation to give up. These were sacrifices made voluntarily — in the sheer purity of love.

Too often, when we have an opportunity to learn something of this kind of love in our own lives, we miss our chance by trying to hold on to what we want. But when our needs were coming down the road, Jesus’ attitude led Him to step out of the way so that our needs could pass by unhindered. And Paul says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

This type of sacrifice, in which we yield our wants to someone else’s needs, is part of the submission that the Lord asks us to learn. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). I can tell you, there is not a purer joy in the world than doing this, and I can also tell you, there is no more freeing, liberating experience. Yielding to someone else’s dreams will break many a chain the devil has made.

“In submission we are free to value other people. Their dreams and plans become important to us” (Richard Foster).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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