Fresh Hope – 6th April 2018

Today I noticed a man wearing a t-shirt declaring the words, “NO SACRIFICE, NO REWARD” across the back. I assumed this was in reference to his weight-lifting-focused lifestyle as he was strutting around with about 2% of body fat, rippling muscles, and a chest and neck resembling something like that of Goliath! He had a protein shake in one veiny hand and sweaty towel in the other. My guess is that ‘sacrifice’ to this person is giving up many hours a week to pursue his body conditioning goals. He would no doubt have to give up eating whatever he felt like, in order to follow a strict diet. He would sacrifice time with friends, for time at the gym – all for what he deems a worthy reward.

There is something powerful about sacrifice. Denying self and immediate gratification in the pursuit of a vision that will reap a greater reward. Although we live in an “instant gratification, me-centric” culture, it seems that true satisfaction and fulfillment comes at the end of a road of sacrifice.

Jesus himself ‘for the joy set before him, endured the cross’ (Hebrews 12:2). He had a vision, which made the present pain and sacrifice worth the awaiting reward. Jesus went to the cross, and paid the ultimate price so we could live in the reward of it today. We are the joy that was set before Him. We are the reward He saw at the cross.

Our ability to sacrifice is directly linked to our ability to have vision for our lives. We can sacrifice the immediate gratification of fast food for the vision of a long life and good health. We can sacrifice the immediate gratification of new clothes, for the vision of being debt free and buying a home one day. You sacrifice your selfish desires to the benefit of your spouse, for the reward of an enduring marriage. You sacrifice the short-term gratification of pursuing meaningless relationships, for the reward of a meaningful one in the future. We sacrifice time in our busy day for God, and in reward gain greater intimacy with Him.

This is why Jesus said, ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it’ (Luke 17:33). There is no doubt that sacrifice is a major theme of the gospel. In trying to take and keep all you can for yourself, you will only lose out. To gain something long term, you must give up something and make a sacrifice in the immediate.

What in your life can you lose today, in order to preserve it for tomorrow? Do something that your future self will thank you for. Pay the uncomfortable, maybe even painful, price today, to reap the promised reward tomorrow.

Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.