A Call to Sacrifice

Text: Genesis 22:9
When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. (NRSV)

Is God calling you to sacrifice?  Many people see the Christian life as a life of sacrifice in the worst sense of that phrase.  They think of it as living a strict way of life that removes any opportunity for joy and happiness.  In fact, the Puritans, who came to the shores of our country for religious freedoms, were well known for their belief in a judgmental God, a humanity who was sinful in its very nature, and that good could only be accomplished through hard work and self-discipline.  These series of beliefs have been exaggerated into a caricature of the Puritans as those who lived a life of sacrifice that was miserable at best.
There is a preponderance of texts in our Bibles however, that seem to tell us that God desires that we live lives of joy and happiness.  The things that God calls us to sacrifice, are the things that lead to misery and are outside of God’s will.  Things like — unforgiveness, selfishness, and pride.

When we obey God’s word, it does not lead to misery but to happiness.  Gratitude, loving neighbor, unselfishness, worship, humility, and so much more are keys that unlock the joy of God.  The 84th Psalm speaks about the joy that is found in worshiping God and living in God’s ways.  In verse 4 and 5 it says, “Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.  Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.”

When Paul talks about sacrifice in the twelfth chapter of his letter to the Romans, he is talking about giving up the ways of the world which lead to misery and, instead, renewing our minds with the things of God which give us joy; “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

God does call us to sacrifice but, as with all of God’s desires for us, it is a call for us to be filled with the joy that can only be found in an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  It is a call to sacrifice the ways of the world that would tear us down.  It is a call to take up the ways of God which lead to health, happiness, and joy.  Won’t you give your life as a living sacrifice to God today?

Pray with me:

God, I give myself away to you that you might fill me with the joy of life you have intended for me since the beginning of time.  AMEN.

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