According to Merriam-Webster’s website, sacrifice is, “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.” (Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacrifice). Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about sacrificing, not only for Him (though that to me is the most important) but for others around me as well. Dying to self and sacrificing for others is not a popular concept in this current society. Many advertisements and social media posts even discourage us from doing these things. Yes, we must be careful not to sacrifice to the wrong things or people, or else we may not only lose everything but gain next to nothing in the process. However, that does not mean it is wise to only live for oneself. Only living for yourself will ultimately lead to destruction and death of your spirit. Your heart will most likely become so hardened that you will really have little or nothing to give or share with others, or you won’t want to. This is why sacrifice is so important.
What God has taught me about sacrifice in my own life:
The three major changes that I have had to go through last year were these: A) Getting a new job B) Having my sibling move away. C) Going to a new church. God has taught me through these three events that I have had to let go of certain people and things to get to where He wanted me to be in life. For instance, if I stayed at the job in the thrift store and not listen to the inner promptings (I believe, of God) to look elsewhere, I would have never been blessed with some of the things that I enjoy today. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the job there or that the people in there were mean to me, but that God put in me the feeling that my time was up there and I needed to embrace a new challenge in my life. In essence, God wanted me to sacrifice the security that I felt at the thrift store to trust Him with something bigger. Luckily, I did, with great results! When my sibling moved away, it was very difficult for me at first. I felt a bit alone and empty inside where my sibling’s presence used to be. However, I realized I needed to sacrifice for that sibling so that they could accomplish what they needed to do get a better job without pressure or me (or my parents) hovering over that sibling. I needed to allow them to grow. Going to a new church was also very difficult for me. I remember God had asked and said to me a few years back, “What if [old church name] no longer existed? Wouldn’t I still be there for you? What if you had to go back to [another old church]? What if I have greater plans for [old church name]? What if you could just enjoy now and trust Me?” This was kind of prophetic, in retrospect, because now the old church doesn’t really exist (at least as that named church) and God has been doing something different through that church. However, I felt God’ s nudging that I should look for a different church so that He could grow me better. Almost a year later, I have been going to my current church and grown so much there! But I had to sacrifice the presence of my church family I had grown with for about ten years (and still miss them), in order to make room for something different that God wanted to do with my life.
Now, I sense God may be nudging me to give up some of my co-workers and managers at work, in a way, in order that I depend on Him more, and not on them and their approval so much. I am not saying that I no longer value them or that their approval doesn’t matter to me. What I am saying, through future events, is that I may need to give up having to be with some of them constantly (or for my own happiness) so that they may feel more joyful or less stressed in their lives. It’s not that I was a burden to them or something either, but that change was needed in their lives so that they could have a deeper sense of purpose and positively impact the lives of others. (And, no I’m not planning to quit my job either, in case you’re wondering…)
How to Sacrifice For Others (without sacrificing your identity):
- Allow them the option of leaving or rejecting you, if you really love or care about the other person.–This is why stalking is so wrong. It does not give the person the space they need to breathe apart from you. Even though I know most of you would never stalk someone, when we don’t allow a person close to you (i.e.. a family member, spouse or a close friend) adequate space apart from you, they may feel suffocated and trapped, and they will not be able to really love you fully from their heart(s), or their own free will. This may be painful and upsetting for you. Trust me; I have experienced this many, many times in my life, more times than I care to count. However, if we don’t allow this option, not only will that person grow in their love for you but you won’t grow either! If this other person or persons really love you, they will at least visit you. If they don’t care to even acknowledge you anymore, then the relationship was not meant to be, and you have to move on for their sake and yours!
- Be willing to give up your selfish dreams and desires for that other person or persons.–For instance, if you and your friend are in the same car and he or she is driving, let them choose the music they listen to for their pleasure, even if you dislike it, especially if it is only a matter of taste. Also, parents, never ever live vicariously through your child or children and impose your dreams and wants on them! Let them have their own dreams and goals. Yes, raise them with a set of rules and morals you believe will help them be successful in life, but never force your child into a profession or activity they don’t want just because you didn’t get to do it yourself.
- Be willing to give up something valuable for that other person or persons, if the situation calls for that.–This may be sacrificing financially for the sake of the poor, or it may be something as simple as sacrificing your time to help another person or friend in need. For instance, if someone you know at work or at school often goes hungry and does not bring a lunch or dinner with them when they are feeling hungry, you could sacrifice for them by fasting that meal and giving your meal to them. Or you could still eat your meal, but offer to buy the person a meal from a restaurant or store. This is not to cultivate a “poor-me” mentality, but to serve the other person in need.
As one can see, even if in some circles, sacrificing for others is highly discouraged or even rejected, sacrifice is an important part for both parties in a healthy relationship. Though it may not be wise to sacrifice for someone who is constantly trying to take advantage of you, you should find someone for whom it is a wise and viable idea to sacrifice to, whether it be God or another person. Who has sacrificed a lot for you? And who have you sacrificed for? Please discuss in the comments.