There are so many places and memorials at my school that represent something, especially because it is a senior military college. However, one sticks out to me as I write this post. This memorial surrounds the flag pole which flies our nation’s colors every day. Around it are large stones with the names of former students who have gone on to fight and die in the various wars America has been a part of or who have died while attending the school. Starting from WWI all the way until Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom, these are the names who have sacrificed their lives so that we may continue to live in freedom. At the top of the center stone is engraved the words All Have Given Some, Some Have Given All.
Sacrifice is such a big and heavy word. We as Christians should know what this word means and the impact it has more than anyone else. Out of all the definitions that I found, this was my favorite: “the surrender of something prized for the sake of something considered as having a more pressing claim.” Giving something you hold close for the sake of something greater. There are three main points that I want to get at when it comes to salvation.
Sacrificing Yourself for the Sake of Salvation
A great point that ties into this first point is found in John 9:24 (ESV), where it says:
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
I believe in something known as Total Depravity. This essentially means that man is totally affected by sin and cannot choose to be good. That being said, man can be very selfish. We value ourselves very highly. When you hold onto your old ways and continue to sin without striving to be better, you will eventually lose your life. Yes, you might have the time of your life, however, once you die and enter eternity, that changes. Those sinful desires that you took pleasure in will no longer give you joy. Rather, you will suffer in such a horrible way.
However, if you decide to surrender your life, something you hold dearly, to God, then you are saved. Yes, you will have temptations and trials and tribulations. No, it will not be easy. But if you truly are saved then you will stick with it and collect your inheritance once your human body dies. Why? Because you surrendered your life and gave up your passions of the flesh for something more.
Sacrificing for Others
One of the most popular verses that I have heard come out of soldier’s mouth is John 15:13 (ESV), which reads:
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.“
There is no love that is greater than the love of one who would give his life up for his friends. Can you imagine doing that? To end your life for the sake of another? That is a tough question. If you are willing to do that, then you have truly found love. Unfortunately, many people today have lost sight of the meaning of love because they have stopped looking at Scripture. They marry and date for the wrong reasons and people wonder why divorce is so high today. Now I understand this doesn’t include everyone who gets divorced. I don’t know every situation, but 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) defines love as:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…”
All these things define love. However, if you are willing to end your life for the sake of someone else, you have found the greatest love. However, dying for another is not the only way to sacrifice for another. Jesus tells a parable that shows sacrificing for others. This passage is found in Luke 10:25-37 (ESV), as it reads:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’”
This is such an incredible and great example of sacrifice that doesn’t require death. Despite what you would think, the priest and Levite ignored the hurting man. Surprisingly, it was the Samaritan who had compassion and took the man to the inn to care for him. He took time out of his day to help someone else in need, but not only that, he gave up money so that the man would be healed.
My pastor once was preaching about this parable and I won’t forget what he said at the end. “Are we really supposed to stop what we’re doing when we pass by those in need? Are we really supposed to give help and aid to those in pain? Are we really supposed to surrender our money for the sake of another less fortunate? Yes… because that is what we are called to do.” Though greatly paraphrased, it still shows such a hard and difficult message. As men, we are selfish, but as Christians, we should sacrifice for others to further glorify God.
The Example of Christ
As you have been reading this, I am sure you kept thinking about when I would bring up Christ. Christ gives us the perfect example of sacrifice. That being said, His example makes the perfect closing point. A leader is one who leads by example, and Christ truly does that. As a follower of Christ, I look up to His example to live my life. I mentioned the Bible verse that many soldiers quote. If you continue to read in John 15:14-15 (ESV), it reads:
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
If you remember, Jesus tells them that there is no greater love than someone laying their life down for their friend. Then He says that they are His friends. We all know that Jesus laid down His life for the sake of the Elect. Jesus is the perfect example of sacrifice when he does this. One of the most popularly known verses is John 3:16 which reads:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
It is through Christ’s sacrifice that we are able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Through His blood, we are washed clean from the sins of our past. Jesus’s death was the ultimate sacrifice, and we should look to Him with thanksgiving and as an example to follow. He truly was the best leader in the history of the world.
Conclusion and Application
As you finish reading this, I hope you either learned a thing or two or that you were reminded of something. While I enjoy writing these posts, I don’t write them for myself (There is no way I have that much time on my hands to do that…), but rather for the glory of God and for His Elect. Please meditate and think on this as you go throughout your day. May we all have a better understanding of sacrifice and the importance of it in our salvation. May we all look to Scripture for the definition of love, and may we all look up to the glorious example that Christ has made for us to see.
Soli Deo Gloria!