Sacrificial giving for ordinary people
The Oxford dictionary defines the word sacrifice as ‘the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else more important or worthy’.
My own experience
I can testify that my parents certainly knew what it was to sacrifice their own creature comforts to ensure their four daughters had a good education and opportunities in this life that they had never had.
One of the deepest impressions of Christian love I have known was when I was a young, lonely Christian who had never really experienced consistent ministry in a local church. I came to Swansea, attended a local church and was immediately offered hospitality in a warm, loving Christian home. This hospitality was offered consistently, willingly and sacrificially to many students even when, I am sure, the families concerned may have longed for a quiet Sunday with just the family. This love even extended to a place to stay for a number of weeks when my own accommodation was unavailable.
I was also particularly challenged by the willingness of the deacons in those early days, who sacrificed so much time and energy to renovating the church building. Their wives were a real example to me; never once did I hear them complaining. I also thank God for my husband who looked after our three small children every Sunday afternoon whilst I taught in Sunday School; he even occasionally prepared tea for the class. And for the past sixteen years he has willingly spent Friday evenings alone whilst I have been in our young people’s group.
Lessons from Scripture
But when I think of sacrificial giving I am reminded of the widow in Mark 12:42-44 who demonstrated her love to God by giving all that she had. That tiny amount of money must have been so important to her yet she was willing to give it all. I also think of Hannah who willingly gave Samuel up for service in the temple of her Lord. Her love for Samuel was great but her love for the Lord was even greater.
None of this, however, can even be compared to the greatest sacrifice of all, made by God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. It is amazing that God loved us so much, we who are rebellious sinners at best, that He gave His only well beloved Son for us. When we begin to realise something of the magnitude of this sacrifice and the depths of the love of God towards us, we begin to grasp that there is no sacrifice we can make which is too great for Him. In fact there is no such thing as our making any sacrifices for God – for all that we have and are belong to Him anyway. As Isaac Watts says:
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Shirley Towers is a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Swansea.