An Underrated Sacrifice
What do you think of when you hear the word surrender? Maybe you think of the battle of Saratoga in the Revolutionary War, where General John Burgoyne of the British army surrendered to General Horatio Gates of the continental army. Or you might be thinking of September 2nd 1945. On this day, the emperor of Japan officially signed a document surrendering to the allied forces.
There are of course many other things that may come to mind when you think about surrender. You remember that awful, painful game most of us played as kids called mercy. It is one of those cringe worthy games when you think on it. Two people interlocking their fingers together and bending back each one's fingers in an effort to cause enough pain where someone surrenders and cries out mercy.
In a biblical sense, the first thing that my mind drifts to is that awesome book of the Bible that we all love to spend time in called Leviticus. In it, we read all about the sacrifices prescribed for the people of Israel to follow. (see Lev 1:1-17) Of course all of these insufficient sacrifices that the priest and the people had to offer were meant to point us in the direction of the all sufficient sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect lamb of God. "
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29 NLT.
When writing of this perfect sacrifice in his epistle, Peter writes, "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV. As you can see, sacrifices come in all shapes and sizes but none more perfect or more important than the sacrifice of Christ when he gave up heaven for earth and ended up on a piece of wood between two thieves. Although this sacrifice must reside and remain in the cross hairs of our minds, it is not the underrated sacrifice I am referring to.
There is a sacrifice we see in scripture that is sometimes not thought of as such. After being wrapped in flesh for over 52 years I have realized that perhaps our greatest sacrifice is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Most of us don't equate being thankful with a sacrifice, but if we are honest with ourselves sometimes it is. Sometimes we must surrender our feelings, thoughts and wills on the alter of thankfulness. The Bible pulls no punches when it comes to the fact that praise and gratefulness are offered up as sacrifices at times.
"Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name."
Hebrews 13:15 ESV.
Are there times in your life where you feel like praise, worship and thankfulness are a chore that you'd rather not do, like shoveling snow or cleaning out your gutters? Is there another kind of fruit, not so ripe and not so fresh that wants to come off your lips and out of your mouth at times? I feel like I can safely answer this one for everybody. There are seasons of my life where the last thing my natural mind tells me to do is express praise or gratitude. Lets not forget what the bible say's about trusting our thoughts and our minds.
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each one according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve."
Nothing in life will trick us and turn us away from a life of thankfulness more than trusting in our emotions and feelings. So what is the prescription and antidote to being a person who is able to disregard negative feelings and tough circumstances and offer up a sacrifice of praise and gratitude? King David might of been a man after God's own heart and the apple of His eye, but he nonetheless put his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. He was wrapped in the same humanity as we are but in Psalm 7, he gives us a sure remedy that will enable us to surrender our feelings and offer a sacrifice of praise.
"I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness."
Psalm 7:17 NIV.
In this brief, small scripture, David said a mouth full. When the object of our praise and thankfulness becomes who He is, rather than what we have, we will be able to offer up an offering of praise despite of the weeds that are growing in our gardens. We will be able to sacrifice difficult circumstance for a grateful heart. There may be no greater sacrifice we can offer than this one, the one that is offered despite of ourselves and in full view of the One we are offering it to.