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Elements of Spiritual Growth - Sacrificial Growth
by Greg Baker
5/30/2011 / Christian Living
Taking your personal spirituality to the next level requires sacrifice. Until the Christian can begin to understand the importance and proper place of making a sacrifice, he cannot move to the next level of his spiritual growth.
The Bible is full of principles regarding sacrifices and the importance of sacrifices. We shall examine a few of them to get a general sense of the importance of the sacrifice.
A SACRIFICE MUST COST YOU
2Sa 24:23-24 - All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee. 24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
David needed to make a sacrifice to the Lord to stem a plague on the people. Araunah offered to give the land and the sacrifice. David refused. It is not a sacrifice if it costs you nothing.
Throughout the Bible, the sacrifice is an essential element to God's blessing and to the spiritual state of both a nation and an individual. Until the Christian is prepared to pay a price for His God, he cannot move to the next spiritual level.
But that's the problem. We don't mind serving God as long as it doesn't interfere with our lives too much. We don't mind God as long as it doesn't cost us anything. This unwillingness to pay a price to serve God, to be called a Christian is the forerunner of apathy. Unless you are willing to make a sacrifice, you will soon develop a heart that finds the things of God uninteresting, or if interesting, not important enough to act on.
A SACRIFICE IS PRESENTED TO THE LORD
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Not only is a sacrifice a reasonable service to God, but a true sacrifice needs to be presented to the Lord. In the Old Testament, this meant bringing the sacrifice to the altar before the Temple. Here, a person would present--not only himself, but also his sacrifice. The sacrifice would then be examined for any blemish. If none was found, the sacrifice was deemed acceptable to pay for the sins of the individual.
The sacrifice was offered before the Lord. The sacrifice was offered to the Lord. It represented the best the individual had. It was meant to be something special, something sacrificial.
How different is that from most of Christianity today? We do give God things, do we not? But it is usually second best. It is usually what we don't need. It is often what we won't really miss. This is the challenge of the sacrifice. When it is a real sacrifice, it is presented to the Lord as the best you have to offer--a true gift. It shouldn't be the blemished, the leftovers, the castoffs--it ought to be your best!
A SACRIFICE IS THE SEED OF HOPE
When you truly make a sacrifice it is because you hope it will bring about a result that you will get to partake in. Observe the following verses:
Mar 10:28-29 - Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
Peter left everything to follow Jesus. Jesus, however, knew that his sacrifice planted the seeds of a future hope. Everything Peter gave up to serve Christ, he would get to enjoy--but on a scale larger than he ever imagined.
Business owners make sacrifices of their time, money, and tears for the hope of a successful business. Athletes will sacrifice certain pleasures of the flesh for the hope of success on the court, track, or arena. A parent will sacrifice to help their children attend college in the hope they can make a successful career with their lives.
It's all about hope. It's all about faith. People who believe in something will sacrifice to make it so. This is a simple concept, but one that we really don't understand well. We say we believe in God, but there is often no action or giving that actually points to that--where is the sacrifice for what you believe?
This is the heart of the issue. You make a sacrifice because you believe in where your God wants to take you. You believe in a richer reward, a return on your investment that in unparalleled by anything the world has to offer.
If you want to take your spirituality to the next level, it will require a sacrifice on your part. It will cost you. It ought to be of your best. And it is done because you are betting on the outcome. You believe in it. You believe in Him, the mission--everything!
When this is true, then it will indeed be merely a reasonable service in your own eyes!
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