Many years ago I heard a sermon where the preacher pointed out how we could tell what was important to us by what was in our checkbook register. Apparently at that time, as now, Wal-Mart is EXTREMELY high on that list. It isn’t that I worship Wal-Mart, it just so happens the bulk of what we buy for our family of 7 comes from there. I mean, they carry everything!
Some years later I heard a variant of this same idea wherein the chief indicator of worship was where one spent their time. Surely, time spent on a thing would indicate where one’s passions lie, would it not? Maybe … If so, I apparently have a healthy worship of work, fifth grade homework, and teaching. This, too, seemed an inadequate metric to gauge where the passions of my heart were truly centered.
Then, it hit me during the sermon last Sunday. Yes, I was thinking and jotting down notes as I listened with one ear, but it was born out of the message. I thought of Mary and Martha, one focused on the tasks at hand, the other focused on the Savior.
The answer wasn’t my checkbook register, necessarily, and it wasn’t my time clock … necessarily. What is, however, a great indicator of my worship is the degree to which I am willing to sacrifice for a thing.
This made me think of Jesus. He, being one third of the Triune God of Creation, set aside or sacrificed (even though temporarily) His Divine nature for you and for me. Well, He didn't set it aside in the sense that it wasn't available to Him as we see when He walked on water, calmed the storm, and fed the 5,000. However, He took on the form of a servant, sacrificing His rightful authority. He made Himself lowly, sacrificing His deserved comfort. He challenged the false teachers, sacrificing His potential status in the congregation. He poured out His blood, sacrificing His very life. Why? For you and for me.
His love for us was so vast and so wide He was willing to sacrifice everything to purchase us. Our level of willing sacrifice seems to be in direct proportion to the love and worship of the object of our offering.
I wonder, are we willing to sacrifice as much for our walk with Christ, for cultivating an undying obedience to Him, as we are willing to sacrifice to achieve more and be greater in our earthly pursuits?
I wonder what our level of sacrifice says about the objects of our worship? I'm afraid of the answer, at least for me.
I fear we are not actually willing to sacrifice as much for following Jesus as we are willing for earthly gains, for prestige, for status, or for acceptance.
When was the last time we stayed up late, traveled all weekend, rearranged the family schedule, and said "NO" to all other engagements to make sure our kids participated in events serving others? Events where there was no reciprocity of service, no reward, no title, no prestige.
When was the last time we pulled all the stops to make sure we could feed the hungry, help the homeless, or learn more about Jesus like we do for our vacations, select sports teams, new cars or homes?
Not that any of these things are inherently bad. In fact, they are good things; awesome things, but we mustn’t forget the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 64, verse 6:
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
Did you catch that? It isn’t our unrighteous acts that are like polluted garments, it’s our righteous ones. The good things we do that sometimes bring a stench to the nostrils of God.
We can find ourselves unpleasing to God even in our attempts to do, or engagement in, morally neutral or even good things. They become unpleasing when they become objects of our worship. How can we tell? We sacrifice for the things we love.
Why is $200.00 for youth camp outrageous while $1000.00 for sports camp is a bargain? Because we sacrifice for that which we love and worship.
Why is it we can roll ourselves out of bed at 5 am to run on the treadmill, but can’t seem to squeeze in a Bible reading before we start our day? Because we sacrifice for that which we love and worship.
We are willing to DO that which is important to us and sacrifice precious things in the interest of that which we love and worship. We DO NOT DO other things because, frankly, we don’t care to. At least we don’t care enough to sacrifice to ensure their completion. We don't love them. We take action because we are in love with whatever happens to be the object and benefactor of our sacrifice.
How many of us would sacrifice it all, our property, our status, our lives, to save our children or loved ones? All of us, I would hope. Why? Because we sacrifice for that which we love.
Is our love and sacrifice focused properly? Are we willing to sacrifice for the right things? Is our walk with the Lord as important as the things of this world? I fear not. God have mercy on us all.