What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.—Psalm 116:12-14
C.T.Studd has said “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him”. I agree wholeheartedly. But I also agree with Dr. David Livingstone asking “If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?…People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege”.
I think we are once again looking at a paradox at its best.
For the world it might look like a huge sacrifice giving up some pleasures and the life style they love. But for the person who is answering God’s call it suddenly becomes the best thing ever happened to her/him. How is this possible? It’s not possible for us but it is possible for God! Self-preservation is the way of the world. Self-sacrifice is the way of God powered by the Holy Spirit.
Catherine Booth equips us this way: “Whatever the particular call is, the particular sacrifice God asks you to make, the particular cross He wishes you to embrace, whatever the particular path He wants you to tread, will you rise up, and say in your heart, ‘Yes, Lord, I accept it; I submit, I yield, I pledge myself to walk in that path, and to follow that Voice, and to trust Thee with the consequences’? Oh! but you say, ‘I don’t know what He will want next.’ No, none of us know that, but we know we shall be safe in His hands.”
Until we take the leap of faith to follow God’s calling we don’t know the blessings that are attached to the sacrifice we are about to make. It comes once again to trusting God and his promises. J.I. Packer encourages us to be radical for Christ: “Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present”.
It sure is tyme to set aside our excuses. God does not plan bad things for us. Frederick Buechener’s famous quote underlines this, too: “the place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It might seem like a sacrifice but it ends up being a privilege instead. It is indeed a honor and a privilege to serve God. Yet we are not doing it alone. We are powered by the Holy Spirit. Hence we can be bold like David Livingstone and say: “Without Christ, not one step; with Him, anywhere!”
Heart-loyalty to the Lord means continual effort to bring all the conduct of our lives, our thoughts and intents of our hearts, into subjection to the Divine will 2 Corinthians 10:4–5. This is our first duty, our continual duty, and will be the end of our duty; for “This is the will of God concerning our sanctification.” In practical terms how do we carry out this sacrifice of thanksgiving in our daily lives. First, we must learn to attune ourselves to his will. Do we find tyme to daily study his word, because therein will we find what his will is for us? Do we truly believe that every issue of life can be resolved by going to the word of God, not only in the large matters, but also in the small? Have we a prayer life that is one of continual thankfulness? Do we note every thing that the Father does for us, no matter how insignificant we feel it may be? Are we approaching him less and less to grant our desires and more and more to thank him for life’s circumstances?
Daily do we attempt to speak forth the wonderful words that have been given us? Do we find some way each day to give comfort to the sin-sick and heavily burdened world? Perhaps a tract, or just a word in due season heralding the coming kingdom. Daily do we pray for greater means and ways to speed the harvest to its completion? Do we desire to find more opportunities in service and once finding them, heartily put our hand to the plow?
Do we look for ways each day to serve our brethren and lighten their burdens? Do we love them because we see the growth in them that marks them as being the Lord’s? Do we overlook and cover their blemishes and imperfections by not making them topics of discussion with others or even giving their foibles credence by thinking about them? Are we cognizant of both their spiritual and temporal needs, ever on the watch to see if in some way we can help? Do we give of our tyme as well and our means whenever and wherever needed? Perhaps it is tyme spent in helping in some temporal task, or perhaps it is tyme spent in study so that we will always have something to give, either in private conversation or at the meetings.
Do we delight to meet with our brethren on all occasions? Do we make the meetings our personal responsibility and feel a burning need to always be there and to always try and gladden the hearts of all who are there? At night, as we end the day, do we review what we have done and said? Do we see some progress in the development of our characters? Do we admit to our failures and seeks ways to do better the next tyme we are tried and tested? Have we seen and learned all of the lessons that the Lord had for us that day? Is our life in Christ the center point of our existence? Then this will be our sacrifice of thanksgiving. From one standpoint, doing these things will be a sacrifice—a sacrifice of tyme, money and cherished ambitions, because now there will be neither tyme or means for them. But from another standpoint it will be our great joy in this life, because the Lord promises us: “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” Proverbs 10:22. Is our lofty goal the completion of the race course and are we bending our all to win the great prize” When we ask “What shall I render unto the Lord?” is our joyful response “EVERYTHING?”
*Resource: Mari-Anna Stålnacke