Spiritual Discipline of Sacrifice

When we practice the spiritual discipline of sacrifice, we allow ourselves to give up the security we build for ourselves so that we learn to rely on God for what we need. There is, however a difference between sacrifice and frugality, and like all aspects of our faith, we must learn to be responsible in our actions.

The Purpose of Sacrifice

Most of us think of the spiritual discipline of sacrifice as giving something up, but we have to look inside ourselves to see why we are sacrificing something in the first place.

In some cases, sacrifice is an act of obedience to God. Sometimes God asks us to sacrifice something important to us in order for us to learn that there is something greater beyond it. Other times we need to practice the spiritual discipline of sacrifice so that we learn to rely on God's provisions rather than the things we have built for ourselves. By not relying on our own resources, we learn to rely on God. It's part of submitting to God.

Sacrifice vs. Frugality

Sometimes we mistake the spiritual discipline of sacrifice with being frugal. When we give up gaining something we don't have, that's being frugal. We watch our money and our resources carefully when we're frugal. Sacrifice doesn't mean not getting something, it means giving up what we already have to please God. Sacrifice means taking ourselves outside our comfort zone and learning to rely on God for what we need.

Yet sacrifice doesn't always mean we give up everything we have.

Sometimes it's just about keeping things simple. There are examples in the Bible of people giving up everything for God. When we look at nuns and priests, they give up their earthly possessions for God. Yet, for many of us sacrifice may mean giving up a relationship, a piece of clothing, our time, a club, or an activity.

By sacrificing we lose a sense of security in ourselves and develop a sense of security in God.

Responsible Sacrifice

Just because we may want to develop a strong spiritual discipline of sacrifice doesn't mean we can just give up on our responsibilities. When we commit ourselves to certain things, whether they be projects or financial obligations, we need to fulfill our commitments. God does not ask us to sacrifice at the expense of others, nor is he pleased be irresponsibility. Using God as an excuse to get out of things is not pleasing to Him. Like everything God places in our hands, the spiritual discipline of sacrifice must be used responsibly.

Develop the Spiritual Discipline of Sacrifice

There are certain things we can do to develop the spiritual discipline of sacrifice:

  • Ask what makes you secure. What things are you holding onto as a safety blanket? Are you protective of your time just in case something better comes up? Are you holding onto old friendships that maybe aren't that fruitful. Do you have extra coats you rarely wear, but hold onto just in case they come back into style? If it's a surplus of something that makes you feel secure, it may be something worth sacrificing.
  • Consider the impact of the sacrifice. Before you jump into sacrificing something make sure you think it through. Pray on it. Ask your parents about it. Sometimes we don't always realize the wide reaching impact a sacrifice might have. We need to take the sacrifice seriously and be responsible about it.
  • Remember the ultimate sacrifice. When we feel weird about sacrificing our time, our things, our money or relationships, we need to remember that God made the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus died for our sins. When we exit our comfort zone and start to wonder if the sacrifice is worth it, knowing that God was right there and has made His own sacrifices for us, it eases our discomfort.
  • Admit sacrifice isn't easy. There is a reason sacrifice is a spiritual discipline. It's not easy, and it requires effort and practice. Maybe jumping into a huge sacrifice isn't the best way to go, because it's easy to fail. Consider small sacrifices and building up into what needs to be given up. God knows our limits, but that doesn't mean He won't challenge us to step outside our comfort zones.