Ever take the flinch test? Within the world of information gathering, there is a test to determine when to quit asking questions. The bottom line is one keeps asking information until the person begins to flinch. When they begin to flinch, than you know you have enough information. The same holds true as a Christ-follower.
How often have we been asked to sacrifice before we begin to flinch? What is that one item that we will protect to the very end? That until everything else is gone, that one item is all we have left because it is the hardest thing for us to give up?
For many of us it is time. For many, it is the most precious commodity in their possession. Everything else could easily be given away with the expectation of earning it back. However, time, when given away, is gone forever. It is never recouped. Though intellectually we understand that eternity is waiting for us, the reality in this physical life is now. Now we see, touch, and feel, but eternity is faith in the future after our departure.
Yet, eventually we have come to learn over our life that even time is not our possession any longer. It belongs to our Lord and Master who redeemed us. We are only its steward. He has first priority on it. We have come to learn that He loves us and wants us to enjoy and redeem our time probably more than we do. This is the lesson we all have to learn. We’ve learned it about money. The more one gives without expecting anything in return, the more one receive. And the more one receives, the more one gives again. The cycle continues in every area of our lives. We just need to learn to trust the Almighty Giver without putting boundaries on His giving. If we expect little, He will give us little. If we expect greatness, He will give us greatness. Yet, it is all in His due time.
For many of us born in America as baby boomers, sacrifice is not one of those characteristics we learned while watching television or playing with friends. Instead, it is one of those characteristics that Jesus teaches us through life. It begins with the little things in life. For example, the parent giving up their hobby to spend time with her children playing what they want to play and not what she wants to play. It’s reducing the number of times you eat out each month and donating the money to a worthwhile mission that makes a difference in people’s lives. It’s driving a less comfortable car than one could really afford and saving the difference for a college education to a young person that otherwise couldn’t afford it without your assistance. It’s to stop complaining that you can’t afford to feed two children and find ways to sponsor two more children in another undeveloped country. It’s learning to do without so others could have something instead.
The greatest sacrifice is giving up your life for another. Jesus did. And He struggled in prayer trying to escape from it, but in the end He surrendered Himself to His Dad’s plan and desires. He struggled with His ultimate sacrifice. Which means, so will we. But we don’t know too many people who have struggled unto death.
We may more easily understand how some people over history have given everything they own to charity and moved into a monastery. Though initially many think their sacrifice is great, they soon come to realize the greatest sacrifice is not giving up one’s possessions, but what one is. To give up one’s possessions is only step one of real sacrifice. And if one struggles with that, than we need to pray more for the changing power of the Holy Spirit in our life. The real sacrifice is changing oneself. It’s when one comes to total surrender to our Master Potter in every area of our life. Than sweet surrender turns into sweet living. When the Master Potter changes our heart, all our possessions become a burden. One looks forward to redirecting their ownership to someone else who could benefit from their use. One does not want to be tied down with material goods. One soon learns that the more one owns, the more owns you. Our only Master is our Lord, not everything that one possesses. When our Master is Lord, everything in our possession is for Him to use as He instructs. The only time one will find oneself flinching thereafter, is when He shows us that there are possessions that we have not totally surrendered to Him. Then we will have to deal with it. As His disciples, we are still flinching at times. But those flinches have become less and less of an ordeal in our lives. We know that sacrifice is what Jesus lived. And Jesus is our role model and hero. Our sacrifice cannot ever compare with His. But maybe He will allow us the privilege to experience the after effects that sacrifice brings to everyone it touches. The same way His sacrifice touched our lives.
Our Awesome Unflinching Dad, thank you for revealing your precious ways of life. Thank you for opening up our heart and learning the inner joy of sacrificing for others and Jesus did for us.
Help us to be a master servant. Help us to serve others for their benefit, their needs, and their respect. Help us to serve each person as we would serve you. You are our glory, honor, and hero. Let us be like you. Thank you as we pray in Jesus name. Amen.