If you want something, you are going to have to pay for it, or else pay later for having it. And you are going to pay for it in blood, sweat and tears. This is not something we want to hear. We want to hear about revival, rapture or a roll in the hay, not sacrifice. But sacrifice is inescapable.
You will sacrifice. The question is not whether, but what you will sacrifice? The question is not if, but when.
Perhaps you will sacrifice marriage and children for a career. Perhaps you will sacrifice a career for marriage and children. Perhaps you will sacrifice the opportunity for financial gain in order to live an honest, quiet life. Perhaps you will sacrifice all hope of peace and quiet in order to make a million.
Perhaps you will sacrifice the ability to walk up a hill for one more packet of Doritos.
As the wise man once said, no one ever gets away with anything.
Our choices come at a cost and whatever the sacrifice may be, it will be painful. The cost may be a failed marriage or sleepless nights as you lie in bed riddled with guilt. It might be loneliness or dying alone because you were to afraid to face the world.
All of that may sound like bad news. Sacrifice, and the cost of sacrifice, is inescapable in the world God built. But here is the good news: At each step of the way you get to choose your sacrifice. And so, at least to some degree, you get to count the cost before you take your next step. You get to pick your poison.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28)
Some people will complain about this inescapable state of affairs, but their objection is superficial. Rob them of their kids or cash and they will want someone to pay for the crime soon enough.
The flip side of this is what (or who) you are making your sacrifice for. Is it worth the cost?
Some people will sacrifice the better part of their lives, loved ones or filthy lucre for 15 minutes of whatever. Some will sacrifice life and limb in order to get what they will shortly lose. By contrast, Jesus sacrificed what He had for what He could never lose.
…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Everyday you and I are making sacrifices. We are making choices, to which are attached a cost. Sometimes we are giving up things of little value. Other times we are giving up something very precious in order to gain what we think matters most.
Either way, all our sacrifices point to the gods we worship. This too is inescapable and there is no point mumbling our excuses or spouting our feeble justification. We all know which little god we serve because of the sacrifices we make in their direction. And everybody else knows it too.
The question is, was it worth it (Mark 8:36)? Are the sacrifices you’re making, taking you somewhere good, or are they tempting you to compromise the things that Jesus says matter most?
Are we giving up loyalties and integrity to keep in step with the Nike crowd? Are we sacrificing those that God has called us to love, or are we sacrificing for the sake of those God loves?
Jesus calls us to live faithful lives, close to Him, and grounded in His Word. He calls us to follow Him; to love what He loves and to sacrifice what He has sacrificed – unto Him and for the sake of others. This, we are told, like all other sacrifice, involves pain (2 Timothy 3:12). But, given what we gain, Jesus says it’s worth it. Well worth it.