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“Measure thy life by loss and not by gain, not by the wine drunk but by the wine pourth forth. For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice and he that suffereth most hast most to give.” – Ugo Bassi

As I was perusing some of the quotes, comments and status updates on the popular social-networking sites of the day, I ran across this quote posted by a former student who is now a missionary in Thailand.

Immediately I was struck by its profound message of sacrifice and service, the essence of the missionary life. It is a concept and lifestyle that might come easier to one on mission, but should be applied by all that call themselves Christian.

We are called to serve and sacrifice. Sometimes following Christ means making painful sacrifices – possessions, friendships, relationships. But God will not forget those who have been forced to make such sacrifices for his sake.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” – Matthew 19:29

Even though we are promised a reward for sacrificing in this life we should have other motives for wanting to serve and sacrifice for others. The early Christian church is an inspiring model for us to follow today: devoted to the teachings of the Gospel, committed to worship and fellowship together, and faithfully celebrating communion in memory of Christ’s sacrifice.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” Acts 2:42-45

The writer of Hebrews extols us to the same virtue of sacrifice. He invites us to offer sacrificial praise to God continually.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15-16

When we sacrifice our own comfort, our own needs, our own pride for others, we are remembering who we are. It’s easy to forget that when our lives are so full, so busy that one becomes self-focused just to get things done or to get our needs and wants met. A sacrificial life is one that reflects that God will provide.

A bloody, physical sacrifice of a paschal lamb, goat, or calf is not what God demands. Rather he wants us to sacrifice our own selves to Him by committing to do His will in our lives. The worship God wants from us is to serve others in His name.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:1-2

Our need to sacrifice is based on the Christian requirement to love others as we love ourselves, as Christ loved us. To love, unconditionally, requires willful sacrifice. We can learn how to love from the example of Christ, and get a refresher from 1 Corinthians 13, but to truly love so deeply that we begin to “cover a multitude of sins” requires a life lived in daily submission to the will and lives of others.

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God maybe praised though Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 4:7-11

To what limit should we serve, to what limit sacrifice? God plainly supplies that answer as well. What greater act of love is there than sacrificing yourself for others? Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice not for one of us, but for all of us. To gain the gift of that sacrifice, all we have to do is accept it, by accepting Him. He laid down his life for us. We, as Christians – Christ followers – should be ready and willing to lay down our lives for others if it becomes necessary.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no on than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:13crown-of-thorns

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