Summary: Through the example of Jesus, we can get a good picture of what sacrifice will accomplish in your life.
Living Sacrifice – Part 2
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
1. Sacrifice will cause others to mock you. “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself!” (Mark 15:29-32)
Just a few days before Jesus’ death, He was in the home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Not long after the meal had been served, one of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary, took a bottle of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. Immediately, one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot started to put up a fuss. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money used to help feed the poor?” From a human perspective, the argument that Judas gave was a good one. If his assessment of the value of the perfume was correct, it was worth almost a year’s pay since the average amount that a person could earn in any one day was a denarii.
You’ve all filled out your tax forms by now. You’ve looked at that W-2 over and over again. You know how much you earned last year. If you’re like me, during the year, you wish that you were earning more money, but when it comes time to pay your taxes, you wish that you had earned less money so you wouldn’t have to pay so much taxes. Now imagine bringing a year’s salary in cash to church next Sunday, carrying it to the front of the church and setting fire to it. You can hear the shouts of people as they see the flames begin to grow. “You idiot! We could have paid a year’s rent on the building with that money!” “Why did you go and do a stupid thing like that?! We could have put a down-payment on a piece of land with that!” “That was a total waste! What good does it do anyone now?!” We can justify a gift when we see tangible results that come out of the gift. But ultimate acts of worship are not very easily justified.
As Jesus hung on the cross, persons at the foot of the cross made statements that made sense from a human perspective. “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. Then we will believe you.” Sounds like a pretty fair proposition on the surface. But the problem was that Jesus had already proved who He was over and over again. Those at the foot of the cross that were making those statements had no interest in placing their faith in Jesus. The Bible doesn’t record it, but I can hear others at the foot of the cross saying things like, “What a waste! He was such a good man. He had so much to teach us. He healed so many people. And now He hangs on a tree, dying as a common criminal.“ True sacrifice will rarely ever make sense from a human perspective.