The Christian life—when properly understood—is a life of sacrifice.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:24-28)
I am concerned we do not really embrace this mentality in today’s evangelical church culture. Many professing Christians have supposedly come to Christ, but remain dedicated to a life lived for themselves. Jesus fits neatly into a certain segment of their lives. He is carefully managed by many who claim to know Him. Jesus is often adored for the benefits He brings into their lives, but not worshiped and obeyed in a “to die for” kind of way.
And there is too often a lack of endurance among Christians today. Because so many come to Jesus in order to get their best life now, they are then deeply disappointed when God does not bow to their agenda, or measure up to their definition of success, which is basically the enjoyment of all the world has to offer without Jesus cramping their style. When life does not happen as they expected it to then many are like the seedling in Jesus’ parable that gets choked out by the worries of this world.
Lest we fall prey to the pride that leads us to think that only “other people” or “other churches” are self-serving, we need to look into the mirror and evaluate our own lives. Are we sacrificial people? What I mean is: Do we serve God until it hurts? Or do we only serve Him to the point that it fits neatly into our schedules? Are we fearful of “overdoing it,” or do our lives demonstrate sacrifice? Are we so consumed with being wise stewards that we have lost the risk-taking nature of faith? Have we tamed our God? Have we politely put Him on a leash? Have we domesticated Him and softened the call to radical discipleship?
The example of the believers in Philippi was one of sacrificial service. So great was the sacrifice of their service to Christ that Paul refers to his own ministry as merely a drink offering poured out on top of their ministry (Philippians 2:17-18). The selfless example of the Philippian believers reveals three qualities of sacrificial Christians.
- Sacrificial Christians partner with gospel ministries (1:5, 19, 27).
- Sacrificial Christians persevere through suffering (1:27-30).
- Sacrificial Christians practice generous giving (4:10-19).
This is the passage that I preached on this past Lord’s Day. If you want to think more deeply about the sacrificial service of the Christian life then you can listen to the sermon by searching on “The Joy of Sacrificial Service” here.