~ Sweet Sacrifices ~
Part 2 of 4
Click here for Part 1
A few years ago a teenaged girl, in the presence of her parents, was assertively explaining how she was going to gather up all her things and leave for good. Her answers to questions about having a job and how much of these things she earned were all negative. I replied, "Well, that wouldn't work." She said, "What, running away?" "No, running away without a single possession to your name, including the clothes on your back." Later in this family discussion, she did understand what I was trying to get across…All she had were not "her's" but rather were provided her by her parents who were doing their best.
What exactly are we sacrificing for others and for our faith? Time? Energy? Comfort? Self-indulgence? Money? If we accept the premise (and biblical teaching) that all things belong to God, our Parent, aren't we just returning what is His in the name of self-sacrifice? When we die to these bodies and move into the heavenly realm, the stewardship of all these things is passed onto the care of others, including our bodies. Since these are not things we take with us into the heavens, we never owned them to begin with. So how can we say we sacrifice anything?
Jesus observed how a widow placed only a "mite" in the temple's offering box. To appreciate what was happening, some background is needed. In Jesus' day, a "denarius" was the term used to indicate an average day's pay, and this could vary. (The temple tax in those days was two denarius.) One hundred twenty eight mites equaled a denarius. So this widow contributed 1/128 of a day's wage. Keep in mind that widows then did not get life insurance nor did they have professional careers apart from their deceased husbands! They were typically destitute. However, Jesus remarked how this woman had given more than the wealthy contributors who "sacrificed" their abundance.
Although there is no biblical reference to what I'm about to suggest, ponder with me this speculation: While the wealthy contributors probably viewed their generous offers as self-sacrifices, the widow may have just been returning to God most of what He "lent" her. Perhaps, to the widow, it was a payback on an installment given her, not a sacrifice of anything she owned.
If I spend the money you lend me as I see best, I am not sacrificing anything. But I will be deemed either a faithful steward or investor or a lousy one. What we consider sacrifice in many areas is really a matter of stewardship for what has been placed temporarily in our care.
A devoted Christian homeless man was praying in a church one cold evening. He was well known and loved by the community. Some one who saw him enter the church later returned with two blankets and a sandwich, placing them next to him and left without saying a word. The man prayed his heartfelt gratitude for God's provisions. Soon after, another homeless man quietly approached the one in prayer, stared for a few seconds at the blankets and food, then quickly grabbed them and ran out of the church. The prayerful man smiled and thanked God for the privilege of being a steward of fine gifts, if only for a few minutes. He also thanked Him that the other man will be a little warmer and less hungry that night. The man concluded his prayer by asking God to forgive the person who stole, not what was his, but what was God's. He added to his prayer, "That poor brother didn't know what he was doing."
Click here for Part 3
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
Weekly Reflections © March 9, 2000
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