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.