Jesus knew the true meaning of sacrifice. He
gave up everything for us: "… Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature
God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but
made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in
human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled
himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Phil
For most of us, Easter is a time of year where we contemplate Jesus' death on the cross. It is easy to remember to meditate upon what He did for us. That's why Easter is a holiday, right? But do we remember that we, also, must give up for Him?
"I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, … 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." (Matt 19:28-30 NIV)
But wait a minute. Easter isn't about us! It's about Him! Why should we have to give up our wealth? Why do we need to leave our homes, our families, even our livelihoods? Why can't we just follow Jesus from where we are?
Jesus is our ultimate example, and let's look to Him for the answer. We could ask why Jesus had to leave Heaven to die for us. After all, He could have loved us from Heaven, and His love could not have been more pure. Why did He have to leave the fellowship of His Father?
Friends, if He had stayed in His comfortable home in Heaven, He could not have made the way for our Salvation. He could not have saved us if He had stayed in the company of His Father. He could not have re-established the broken relationship between God and man if He had continued to rule from on high. In order for our Salvation to happen, Jesus had to sacrifice. And He did. Willingly. He became obedient to death-even to a horrendous death, on a cross!
In the same way, sacrifice is necessary for us, too, in order for us to reach the standards God has for each of us. The things that God asks us to give up in His name or only things that will hinder us in our walk with Him!
So let's take a moment to ask ourselves just what we are giving up for Him.
In the persecuted church, Christians give up homes, families, jobs, friendships, support, and security on a daily basis. Many even give up their very lives. Would those in the western world be willing to do the same, were we to find ourselves in a similar situation? Would it be said of us, as it was of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego … They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." (Dan 3:28-29 NIV)?
In the western world, God sometimes asks us to give up the religion we were raised in so that we can be free to have a real, true relationship with Him. It's hard, yes, but oh so necessary! Other times He asks us to give up activities we want to do so that we will have time to do things for Him. Or He asks us to give up friendships so that we will be able to befriend someone who really needs a friend. Or He might ask us to give up certain habits that we have that may be harmful to our health, or that may be clouding our minds so that we can't hear His voice as clearly.
But big or small, it doesn't matter: sacrifice is difficult! But oh so necessary!
During this Easter season, I would like to challenge each of you to think about what Jesus gave up for you and for me. Then I would like to encourage you to think about what you are being asked to give up for Jesus. Remember that Jesus says, "… any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33 NIV).
It may sound harsh, but it is for our own good!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org