Summary: A sermon that describes the meaning and measure of sacrifice.
The Measure of Sacrifice
2 Corinthians 8:7 "Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also."
Introduction: Today I want to share some thoughts with you about the theme of "Building a Life of Sacrifice." I can't think of any subject that is timelier as we observe this Memorial Day weekend. Many of you will visit cemeteries today or tomorrow and place memorials (usually flowers or flags) on the graves of loved ones or friends. Many that we will be honoring this weekend will have served our country in the military and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice. I have always been awed and inspired by stories of the sacrifices that have been made.
READING THEIR NAMES
Jeff Greenfield is a news correspondent for ABC News. He lives in Salisbury, Connecticut and has attended the same Memorial Day observance in his community for the last 15 years. He writes:
"At 10 a.m., the parade begins moving down Main Street. It is a small parade: two vintage cars, bearing the region's oldest war veterans; the men and women who served in the military; the Salisbury Town Band; the Scouts; the Housatonic Day Care Center; the fire trucks from the volunteer fire departments in and around the Northwest Corner. We fall in line behind the fire trucks, and follow the parade to the cemetery. There's a hymn, and a prayer, followed by a Scout who reads the Gettysburg Address, haltingly, shyly. Then come the names of the men who died in the World Wars, in Korea, in Vietnam. A minister recites the 23rd Psalm, a bugler plays taps (with another bugler far away playing the echo), the flag is raised from half-staff, and we all walk the few steps back to the Village Center. It is as artless, as unaffected a ceremony as can be imagined. There are no speech writers, no advance men measuring the best angles for TV (there is no TV) and by the end of it, I--along with many other allegedly sophisticated urban types, are in tears. The men whose names have been read indeed gave what Lincoln called "the last, full measure of devotion"--some in wars whose purpose no one could doubt--some in wars whose purpose will never be clear, some for the folly and arrogance of the men in charge. When they fell, their deaths were a small part of a bigger story. But every Memorial Day, the lives they never got to live, and the people they left behind, are the only story that matters. That is why it matters that their names are uttered aloud before people who never knew any of them. That is why it matters that we were there this year--and will be there the next and the next and the next.
SOURCE: Jeff Greenfield. ABC News InFocus, May 28, 1997.
We honor our dead on Memorial Day because they gave something, they gave something precious, and they gave it all. I believe that giving, giving sacrificially is the keep to fulfillment and happiness in life. I think that it is interesting to note that in the Bible the word "faith" or its variations is used 246 times in the Bible. The word "hope" which is another important word in our Christian life, is used 185 times. The word "love" which is obviously an important word to those of us who are believers is used 733 times. The word "give" or "giving" is used 2,285 times in the Bible. The Bible talks more about give and giving than all of those other issues combined. Why? Because giving is the expression of faith, hope, and love. Karl Menninger the distinguished psychiatrist who founded the world renown Menninger clinic says, "Giving is an important criteria of mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill."
Now, the majority of us will never be called to give "the last, full measure of devotion" physically, but we are all called to do this spiritually! If you do want to have God's best in your life then you must build a life of sacrifice. How? By looking at what God Himself has done.
I. THE GIFT OF THE SOVEREIGN
a. The presentation of this grace
"Moreover, brethren we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed...." v 1
ILL - Bob McKuen took his young son to McDonald's recently, ordered him an order of large french fries. You know how good McDonald's french fries smell. He says as he sat down and was watching his son eat them, he instinctively reached over and grabbed one to eat. His son slapped his hand and said, "Dad, you can't have one. Those aren't your fries."