May 16, 2017

Learning to Sacrifice

Malachi 2:13; Romans 12:1, 9-13

You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings. . . .

—  Malachi 2:13

Considering all the ways God’s people have disrespected him, it might seem appropriate that they flood his altar with tears. But they feel sorry for themselves, not for their sin. They’re weeping because they’re not getting their way. They’re not interested in genuine sacrifice.

Selfishness is powerful. It often stems from not getting something we think we deserve. Sometimes we might even be right about deserving it. Once while I struggled with bitterness, God probed me: “Why not just let it go?” But I thought, “I have the right to be angry.” God did not challenge my right to be angry, but he did show me that I didn’t need to exercise that right. Justice might allow us to be angry or sad, but selfishness often requires those emotions.

Selfishness easily becomes a habit. Injustices happen to us every day; usually they are small bits of unfairness. As selfishness grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to let any of those things go.

Sacrifice has the opposite ­effect. As we grow in the ability to sacrifice, we grow to be at peace in a world of injustice. We can let others have even the things they have no right to. We ­realize that living a sacrificial life is more valuable than anything we might lose to someone else’s selfish behavior.

Selfishness or selflessness: which do you show in your life?

Lord Jesus, you showed us the life of sacrifice. You paid for our injustice so that we can be free. Help us to follow your example. Amen.

About the author — Scott DeVries

Scott DeVries has served as a church pastor and as a ministry ­coordinator in the Holland, Michigan, area. He currently works at ­facilitating connections between the more than twenty ministries and 1,100 churches of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. He has a passion for prayer, church organization, and studying the Scriptures in their original languages.

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