Selfless Sacrifice

I’ve been thinking about sacrifice lately. It might be because I’ve been reading and preaching through the Book of Hebrews at my church. It also might be because of the selfless act of a friend of mine that I’ve witnessed.

I have a friend who is an outspoken follower of Jesus. I don’t say that as a derogatory thing at all. He is bold about his faith and he is an inspiration because his faith is not limited to words alone, he lives it out. He lives it out in a big way.

Not too long ago, my friend was thinking about how he could make a difference. Honestly, I think he’s been asking that question a lot. He and his family are always helping others out, serving other people, finding ways to show people the love of Christ. He’s not one to simply sit on the sidelines and wait for opportunities to come to him, he goes out and seeks those opportunities.

He was led back to a mutual friend of ours who had donated a kidney to a friend years ago and began to inquire about the possibility of doing the same thing. While he didn’t necessarily have a friend who needed his kidney, he knew that there were many people out there who were waiting for transplants. He wanted to make a difference.

When I got wind of his plan, I’m not sure what my first reaction was, well, other than grabbing my side and rubbing my abdomen as I thought about what I would do with one less organ rumbling around inside there. I do know that there were many words that came to my mind. Bravery. Selfless. Sacrifice.

Sacrifice.

It’s a word that we generally use when it comes to our veterans and members of our armed forces. They sacrifice themselves for our freedom. Their sacrifice is costly. They may lose life, they may lose limbs, they may lose a lot of things, but they consider it worth it for the benefit of others.

Selfless sacrifice.

I’m not sure whether or not it’s possible to have a sacrifice that isn’t selfless. Of course, the way that some people throw around words, I’m not always sure that we fully grasp exactly what a sacrifice is anyway.

Whenever I think about sacrifice, I am always drawn back to a familiar passage in 2 Samuel. David is king and he wants to build an altar to sacrifice to the Lord. So, he searches for a location and then consults the owner. The owner wants to give David the land but David refuses to take it for free. He says this in 2 Samuel 24:24, “But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.”

Now, David was king, so he had plenty of money. I guess there might be an argument made that David really wasn’t making a sacrifice, but it’s his words that stand out to me. “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

Sacrifice is costly.

I went to see my friend in the hospital after his surgery. I was moved to tears at what he had done. I was moved to tears that his sole motivation was to give God glory in his sacrifice. I was moved to tears because I felt like my friend was more selfless and brave than I ever could be.

I don’t think that we are all called to make the same sacrifices. Frankly, I’m not sure that anyone would ever want my organs as a bunch of them aren’t really functioning well at the present time, but what else is it that I am called to give up, to sacrifice? If I give something up, am I doing it to get accolades and glory for myself or for my God?

Like I said, I know why my friend did what he did. It’s an incredible inspiration, example, and reminder to me that sacrifice is costly. It’s an incredible reminder to me to seek out ways to make a difference, just as my friend is doing. It’s an incredible reminder to me to strive and seek to be more selfless than I am.

As I readied myself to leave his room, I grabbed my friend’s hand and thanked him for being an inspiration. As I walked out of that room, I lifted up another prayer for my friend and his wife, but also for whoever would be the recipient of his sacrifice. Someone else would find new life because of what he was giving up. New physical life. I know that his prayer was that they would find new spiritual life as well, and that’s just what I prayed!

 

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4 thoughts on “Selfless Sacrifice

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for writing this.

    I know your friend and everything you have said about him is true. His decision to do this has led me to think about my own Christian walk.

    I continually try to understand God’s will and be obedient. Sometimes when I feel called to do something, I wonder if this is God or just me seeking recognition and approval. One way I combat this is to remain anonymous in my giving. This isn’t hard when it is money and it helps me to remove any doubts I have about my motivation. It can still glorify God since the gift can be known, just not the giver.

    ———————————————————————-
    Matthew 6

    1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    ———————————————————————

    Giving in secret is a little more difficult when your giving is in the form of service (or body part!).

    I believe our acts of obedience are meant to glorify God. In order to glorify Him, one must make it known. Sometimes this looks and feels like we are seeking attention. But, I also know that these doubts should not interfere with my obedience.

    I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

    A Brother in Christ

    • Dear Brother,
      Thanks for your thoughts and insights. I hear what you are saying. Giving in the anonymity is a good thing. I’ve done that often myself.

      At the same time, there are certain times when giving with our name attach can bring glory to God rather than ourselves. Sure, there is the possibility of us having a wrong motivation, but that’s when we need to enlist the help of the Holy Spirit. He can check our heart and make sure our motives are pure.

      I think of what Paul wrote in Philippians 1 about those who were preaching the Gospel out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. Paul’s response in verse 18 is this, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

      While we don’t want to serve and give out of selfish motivations, we can know that if we stray and our hearts aren’t right, God can still use that to bring himself glory.

      I don’t think we can have a “one size fits all” rule for this though. I think it’s going to be a case by case basis and we need to continually let our prayer be that God be glorified through it all.

      What do you think?

  2. The other day I had a long conversation with a friend about a similar matter. Jesus was healing people all the time, but even though His followers love to heal, I think the hard part is understanding what the person is actually suffering from. Wanting to cure someone’s headache is not a good idea if that headache is due to heavy drinking. That headache was put there by God to bring about a cure of this person’s alcoholism. Know what I’m saying? Before giving someone your kidneys, you should see whether you are perhaps trying to enforce something that God is trying to get rid of.

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