Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sacrificing the Best for Something Better

In my chaotic heart, there's a path that leads to redemption.

Today, I was presented with this question:

"What is the hardest thing for you to bring before the Lord as an offering or sacrifice?
(Your money, your time, your gifts, your talents, etc.?) Why?"

It brought me back to Cain and Abel.

Cain first, cause that how he liked it, but Abel was most definitely not last.

We all know the story, God favors Abel's gift over Cain and then warns Cain to watch himself because sin is "crouching" at his door, but Cain submits to sin and kills his own brother. God see this and sends him away.

Abel's gift was better, not because of the gift itself, but because of the intent. In Genesis, it doesn't say that Abel was good and Cain was evil, but we get an idea when God is talking with Cain, that his heart is not always in the right place and he seems to struggle with sin.

We can give, give and give. We can give our money to the poor, we can take the coat off our back for someone, we can volunteer at all the soup kitchens of the world, we can even minister to people, giving them the Good News. All this we can do, and it is right, but if our hearts are filled with pride then why should God look on our sacrifices? If we later boast about all we do, do we do it in His name, or our own? If we do all of this so that people can say, "Look how good she is with the homeless and the poor," or "He's such a good soul because he gives so much of his money to charity," is that honoring God's glory, or our own?

Perhaps Cain thought that offering the fruit he worked so hard to harvest was a show of sacrifice for all the sweat he poured into the land. But that was just it, a show. Abel, the shepherd, on the other hand, sacrificed the firstborns of his flock, the future generations of his livestock. His livelihood should depend on those newborns and yet he doesn't. He solely depends on God for his success and so he gives his very best to the Lord. It cost Abel his physical life, but Cain died that day too; a spiritual death. God removed him from his presence, left him to wander the earth, in search for his redemption from sin.

So sad.

This question also reminded me of Abraham and his son Isaac. Imagine if God told you that tomorrow He wants your firstborn child. Imagine He tells you of His plan to take that child back home to Him and you have to initiate it? Most of us will run from that plan, try everything in OUR will to stop it. Abraham did the opposite. After almost a lifetime of praying, waiting, God finally gives Abraham a son, only to learn that he must sacrifice Isaac to the Lord. Heavy-hearted, I'm sure, he takes his son into the wilderness to do exactly as God tells him, having some of the strongest fibers of faith that God will "provide the lamb for the burnt offering,...," and ending that statement with the words, " son."


Probably one of the most disheartening of passages. For Abraham to go forth and do what God asks of him, to kill his one and only son, this child he's been waiting for his whole life, well folks, that takes faith to a whole 'nother level.

See, here's the thing. God provided the sacrifice for Abraham then, and some time later, God put His own Son on the altar. He did it for us. He provided the lamb out of immense love for us. Here we are, sin after sin, confession after confession, and God sacrificing and sacrificing His lamb.

All for us.

So what are you willing to give up for God?

If you're having a hard time choosing, then maybe it's time to strengthen your faith, because whatever you have does not come from you, but from Him. Remember Job? Don't just focus on what Job lost, but focus on what he gained. Before God doubled the riches, Job gained humility, and redemption from pride, and best of all, Job was able to really see who God was. I think that's better than anything money can buy.

I can't tell you what would be the hardest thing for me to bring before the Lord as an offering, a sacrifice. That's between God and I, but I can tell you this. After lots of crying and heart-breaking thoughts, I realized that even if God did decide to ask for my sacrifice, I'd submit it to him, heavy-hearted, but with an abundance of love and faith that what He's asking me to do will take me through that little path in my heart that leads to my redemption.

God bless!

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