Sacrifice With A Song
This has been an unusual several weeks for us all, due to the Coronavirus, along with an abnormal Passion week and Easter Sunday. I don’t know about you, but this ‘shelter-in-place’ has looked a whole lot like ‘sin-in-place’ in my personal life. My sin is right here with me, “in place” (and in my face), now that there are less distractions from what used to be a fairly busy life. Having visited with several others, this seems to be true for a lot of us. Tensions are starting to run high as the future continues to look unpredictable in so many ways. Parenting, schooling, working, church community, and even just grocery shopping have all become more complicated, and for me, this has proven to be fertile ground for my sinful tendencies.
A few days ago, I started to feel weary of this quarantine situation. You could say I decided to have an internal pity-party, where I wondered if my children realize how hard it is to do teach them school, do laundry, fix meals, grocery shop, do chores, etc., without so much as the ability to get alone and away from them (may the grandparents forgive me). I decided I would invite my husband Mark to my little pity-party (one of the five people I can actually have a party with right now), and, as he kindly listened to me rattle off all of the ways I sacrifice for the family and am feeling overwhelmed, and as he further graciously responded in asking how he could bear more of the burden, I immediately began to feel intense conviction. A gracious and quiet husband can have that blessed effect.
The next day, in my desperation, I searched for a sermon on Ephesians 6 where the Bible speaks on family relationships, looking for a golden sermon ‘nugget’ that might make my children obey their parents (ha!), and instead I was met with a picture of Jesus at the Lord’s Supper, portrayed by the pastor. Not coincidentally, it was the Passion week, and we had just gone through this passage in our sermon series at church. In Mark’s gospel account of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus was depicted giving thanks as he broke the bread and drank from the cup; a representation of the unimaginable sacrifice he was about to make. But, the pastor pointed out something that I had not noticed before. Not only did Jesus give thanks, but he sang a hymn with the disciples before departing. The pastor made the point that if we are to be like Christ in all we do, including and especially in parenting, then our sacrifices should have the same “tone”, if you will, as Jesus’ tone. His was a sacrifice accompanied by thanksgiving and a song.
Suddenly, I could see very clearly that I had not been offering up my life sacrificially for my family in recent days, with thanksgiving in my heart and a song on my lips. As I have pondered this truth of Jesus’ demeanor in relation to his willing sacrifice, the Lord has revealed to me various areas in my life where I need to pray and ask for a “song” in my own daily sacrifices. A few key aspects of his sacrifice are worth examining as we think about serving our families and faith family:
Jesus’ sacrifice was not one of self-pity.
Of all the sins in life, self-pity has to be one of the most seemingly innocuous. We may be sacrificially giving of ourselves, all the while having that internal pity-party that oftentimes no one is aware of. But, Jesus never descended into self-pity. Instead, Romans 5:8 says that, “…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus certainly was not waiting for us to love and obey him before he would deem his sacrifice appropriate. And yet, isn’t this what we do at times? It is precisely why I was on the hunt for an Ephesians 6 sermon that would help me straighten out my quarantined kids! “If I could just get these kids to be more obedient, I would be happy to serve them!” Yikes. Let us pray that we do not fall into self-pity when we sacrifice to serve those around us.
Jesus’ sacrifice was not one of grumbling.
Not only did Jesus not have pity for himself, he did not grumble. In all the days of his ministry leading up to the cross, where he knew he was headed to die, he did not complain once. He was rejected by the Jewish people, by the folks in his hometown, and even by some of his own siblings, and he did not grumble. He was in the desert for 40 days and tempted by Satan himself, yet never once complained. This painfully puts into perspective my griping in recent days about everything from doing chores and missing family to the grocery store being sold out of the brand of peanut butter I like…not to mention the good toilet paper.
Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” When we feel tempted to think a little grumbling in a text to a friend never hurt anyone, may we remember that part of the reason for this command is so that we do not diminish the light of Christ in the world. Those small words of complaint begin to bear more weight in light of this truth.
Jesus’ sacrifice was voluntary.
It was mentioned before that Jesus knew he was headed to the cross. We are all familiar with this amazing truth, as Pastor Steve has reiterated it numerous times in going through the book of Luke. 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” It was not taken from him, or given based on some obligation; rather, he willingly gave it. Later in the verse it says that likewise, “we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” I think I could safely say for all of us that we would not view Easter or our salvation in the same way, had Jesus not willingly given his life for us. If he had pitied himself, gone begrudgingly to the cross, needed to be dragged there, etc., it would not carry the significance for us that it does. Nor would he be the sinless Savior.
When I think about my husband, children, extended family, and church family, I do not desire that any of them would perceive that my service to them was a burden on me. No, I long to offer my life in sacrificial service, with thanksgiving and a song, just like Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Heather has been married to her husband Don Mark since 2005. They have four kids. Having grown up in Canyon and attended West Texas A&M, Heather has a desire for the people of this community to know Christ. Recently, she started the venture of homeschooling her two oldest children. Heather has a Ph.D. in Agriculture from WT and operates a scientific writing business from home. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors with her family, having coffee with Mark, cooking, and reading.