I feel it time to discuss one of those dirty words no one likes talking about. No, this is not one of "those" dirty words, for they are not appropriate here. I am talking about the word no one wants to ever hear in relation to their own life, family or situation. The word we must look at and understand anew is that ugly word-sacrifice.
In its least common denominator, the word "sacrifice" simply means to surrender, forgo, give up, forfeit, etc. In order for something to be considered a "sacrifice", it must be valuable. You cannot "sacrifice" something of no worth, or it is simply given away. Sacrifice involves the forfeiting or giving up of something very important to someone or something even MORE important. In other words; sacrifice is giving with a view for the greater good.
In baseball, if there is man on first and less than two outs and the pitcher comes to bat; he will bunt the baseball so as to force the opposing player to run in, get the ball and throw him out at first base. In the process, the runner on first goes to second base. This maneuver is called a "sacrifice". The hitter "sacrifices" himself to advance the runner. In chess, a pawn is many times sacrificed with a view to the next move.
Those brave individuals who willingly serve our country and who lose their lives in combat make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. To lay down one's life for their country, countrymen and the cause of freedom is the very essence of what the word "sacrifice" means. Without question, the greatest example of sacrifice was our Lord Jesus who gave his life a sacrifice for sin. Whenever one is willing to lay down his very life for another, Jesus said that is LOVE.
Giving on behalf of another is certainly one aspect of sacrifice, and a huge one at that. But, there is another side to sacrifice which is less noble and thus less desirable. This aspect of sacrifice deals with the forfeiting, surrendering and giving up of things we value in order to DO what is right or proper. When we are forced to surrender something of great worth in order to receive enough money to pay the mortgage; that is sacrifice.
Let us say that you have in your possession a gold coin appraised to be worth $5,000. Is that coin valuable? Of course it is. Now let's say that you are not hurting financially and throw the coin in a red kettle at Christmas time. Was that a sacrifice? It may have been a gift, and a very generous one at that, but it would not be a sacrifice. But, what if that coin was the only thing of value you owned in life and you gave it to a desperate family trying to find the means to pay utility bills, stay in their home and get food. Now we are looking at the heart of sacrifice.
Giving away something you don't need is NOT a sacrifice. Giving away something of great value or importance to you IS sacrifice. That which motivates non-sacrificial giving is everything from arrogance to obligation. That which motivates true sacrifice is LOVE. A person will only willingly give up, forfeit, surrender and share something of great personal value or importance if motivated by love. Otherwise such things will be hoarded, protected and hidden from sight.
In these ever darkening days in which we live, let us remember what for centuries was supposed to be the "reason for the season". Please, let us remember the ultimate sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in giving his life on our behalf. Let us pause and give thanks to our gracious Lord for so loving us that He willingly gave every last ounce of his perfect sinless life to save us from our sins. Christmas is not about trees, lights, or even mangers and wise men; it is all about sacrificial giving and remembering the greatest sacrifice ever given and that it was for US.
Want to make this the greatest Christmas in the history of your life? Find something of GREAT value and then find someone who if they were to receive it, would have their very life changed. Then go and anonymously give the item to the one who could be genuinely blessed by it and watch what happens to both them and you.
I beseech each of us to be willing to sacrifice something the next few weeks on behalf of another, and to do it anonymously. Whether through the giving of time, money, food, clothing, toys or Bibles; locate that which is of GREAT value to you and bring your heart to the point you are willing to sacrifice it to bring God's blessing to someone in need. I promise you that if you do this, you will receive the greatest gift a person could ever get this time of year; the gift of knowing you have made a difference in blessing someone else.
Sacrifice has a way of changing your life around. The more you give, the more you see how much you have to give. Once the idea of living to give takes command of a person's life, they then tap into the very reason we are alive and drawing breath on this earth. The secret to a full and meaningful life lies not in the abundance of what we possess or in the numbers of friends we have. The simple truth of a life worth living is found in giving that life in love for the sake of blessing, helping and serving another.