Summary: As we try to put ourselves into a position to be able to share the gospel with others, there are few things that will get their attention more than self-sacrifice.
A. Self-sacrifice. A word we are not too familiar with, right?
1. Certainly, we understand its meaning. It is not too hard to define, but it is hard to embrace and embody. Wouldn’t you agree?
2. And yet when we witness self-sacrifice, we are drawn to it. We are amazed by it.
3. Sacrifice touches people’s emotions and melts their hearts.
B. How many of you remember the story of Pat Tillman?
1. It is a remarkable story: Star athlete walks away from the game in his prime, leaving millions in cash on the table, to put his life at risk in service to his country.
2. Pat Tillman had so much going for him.
3. Academically, Tillman majored in marketing and graduated in 3 ½ years with a 3.84 GPA.
4. Athletically, he was gifted. He played football for Arizona State University, and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998.
5. In May of 2002, just 8 months after the September 11 attacks, Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million contract to join the military.
6. He enlisted along with his brother, Kevin, who gave up the chance of a career in baseball.
7. The two brothers completed training for the elite Army Ranger school late in 2002.
8. Both Pat and Kevin were deployed to the Middle East as part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
9. Pat was subsequently redeployed to Afghanistan, where, on April 22, 2004, he was killed in action by friendly fire while on patrol.
10. According to the Army, his unit was attacked in an apparent ambush.
11. The Arizona Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill said of Tillman, “In sports we have a tendency to overuse terms like courage and bravery and heroes, and then someone like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those terms really mean.”
12. Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagiabue said, “Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL. He was an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his team, his community, and his country ahead of his personal interests.”
13. Sen. John Kyl called Tillman, “A great American hero in the truest sense. He had already given up so much, including an incredible football career and loving family to fight for his country in the war on terrorism. His patriotism and courage are an inspiration and we are grateful for his ultimate sacrifice.”
C. There’s that word again…Sacrifice.
1. As I’ve already said, “Sacrifice moves people.”
2. It causes them to stop in their tracks and ask, “Why? Why would someone do something like that?” “What would cause a person to go out of their way for me? What would make them put my interests before their own?”
3. And because sacrificial acts are so rare and powerful, they are rarely forgotten.
4. Sacrifices impact people for a lifetime.
D. The Bible says that those of us who follow Christ should live infectious Christian lives.
1. We should live in ways that makes our faith irresistible to those outside of the family of God.
2. As Philippians 2:15 says, our lives should “shine like stars in the universe.”
3. And, recalling the way that Jesus used the illustration of salt, we should have high savor and potency so that we can impact those around us.
4. In the last few weeks we have been talking about the attractiveness of authenticity and the case for compassion, and today we want to add to them the strength of sacrifice.
5. Authenticity and compassion are important aspects of being a high impact Christian, and when we couple them with sacrifice our lives can have even greater impact.
6. Sacrifice, motivated by genuine love, is extremely difficult to discount.
7. It demands a response of some kind, which is probably a large part of why Jesus lived such a sacrificial life and then called us to follow in his steps.
E. Although there are many ways we can show love by making sacrifices for others, I’m going to focus on three specific areas that I think can have the highest impact on people in our culture.
I. First of all, we can make a Sacrifice of TIME.
A. You very likely could have guessed this first one.
1. Time, as they say, is money, and it’s becoming about as rare a commodity.
2. In our day and time, work weeks are longer, leisure breaks are shorter, and the pace of life is faster.
3. Not long ago, USA Today poked fun at the madness of our schedules, calculating that if we did all we’re supposed to do to live what the experts say is a balanced, well-rounded life, it would require 42 hours a day to get it all done.
4. We all know how hard it is to maintain even the “do-or-die” activities, without trying to add things like exercise, flossing, keeping up with world events, enjoying a hobby, and nourishing deep and meaningful relationships.