Summary: God asked Abraham to sacrifice it all. Would he?
Show the video “What defines you?”
In the video we just watched this statement was made. “What you love most will define who you are, what you become, and what you do with your life.”
Paul is quoted in the video as declaring, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
Paul described himself as “a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.” (Philippians 3:5-6)
He was a man highly honored and respected by the Pharisees and the Jewish people. He would have been cheered for persecuting the rebellious Jews who insisted on following this false Messiah. However, Paul concluded that all this respect, honor, and righteous living were garbage when it came to following Jesus.
His love for the Jewish law defined him as a man who had the goal of destroying the church. He became a man who participated in the murders of the followers of Jesus. (Acts 22:20)
His entire life would have been motivated toward the destruction of the church and the protection of the law.
However, one day he encountered Jesus (Acts 22:6-8) and all these things became worthless. He now had a love for Jesus and his church. He became a missionary, church planter, writer of the Gospels, and accepter of his Gentile brothers. His entire life was devoted to following Christ until he was executed.
We also have examples of others who chose a different path. In Luke 9:59 we read about this encounter that Jesus had. “He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” He felt a responsibility to bury his father. Notice he is not with his father because he requests to return home. The man agrees to follow Jesus but under his terms. His responsibility to his dead father defined him, as one who would reject his calling to carry out what he felt was most important. He desired to be known as a responsible man and this defined his life.
And what was the reply of Jesus. “But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)
Responsibility is a very good virtue unless that responsibility stops us from fulfilling our duty. Often we use our responsibilities to other things as an excuse to delay doing what God has called us to do.
Another example is found in Luke 9:61 “Another said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family’.” Notice this man was not called, he volunteered. He wanted to follow Jesus. However, he really loved his family. What he is asking sounds simple enough. The question was how long would this farewell take? His love for his family defined him as a good family man. And his being unprepared to follow Jesus left him as just that, a good family man.
Again, the reply of Jesus was “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
Being a good family man is wonderful. This seems to be lacking in our culture today. However, when we have decided to follow the calling of Jesus and we hesitate because of our family and friends we are in danger of being found unfit. We must not allow our past relationships hinder us from moving forward spiritually.
Jesus had another encounter with a young man in Matthew 19:21 “Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’.”
Jesus knew what this young man loved the most, his possessions. Have you ever noticed that some people just seem to accumulate wealth with little effort? It seems the wealthier they are the wealthier they get. He was defined as a rich man and he became richer because of it. Now he was at a cross road as to what he would do with his life.
Notice Jesus did not ask him to give his possessions to the poor. Jesus knew it had taken him a lot of time and effort to accumulate all of his possessions. This young man had begun to love wealth, became known as a rich young ruler, and was living that life style. Now Jesus tells him to do three things; go, sell, and give. Unlike the other two, this man is given time to accomplish a cleansing process because his possessions had a strong hold in his life. It would require him to be physically involved in ministry. It would require him to sacrifice. It would require him to serve.