Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Is there any objective merit to sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice? Does God smile on us when we give of ourselves at a cost to ourselves?

I’ve always thought that giving - whether money, or time, or whatever - was always more meaningful when there was real sacrifice involved. If you are well-to-do and you give a lot of money to a charity, that’s a good thing. You are helping people with your resources. But did you really feel any sacrifice?

I, in no way, mean to diminish the generosity of wealthy people. I think it’s wonderful. I just think that if it really costs you something to make the gift, perhaps it carries more meaning. But I’m actually going to get even more specific.

Most people are familiar with the idea of sacrifice of one thing for the attainment of something else. Musicians sacrifice time with their friends to become excellent at their music. Businessmen sometimes, unfortunately, sacrifice time with their families to build a financially successful business. Some people sacrifice financial prosperity for the betterment (relationally, etc.) of their families. These are, to varying degrees, noble. But is there any nobility in sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice?

In the Christian life, we often hear about sacrificial giving - it’s usually being contrasted with, and distinguished from tithing - so, I’m familiar with the concept from that perspective, but . . . well, here; let me tell you how I came to this question. Hopefully that will make clear what I’m asking.

My son is reading “In His Steps”, by Charles M. Sheldon. In the book, one of the characters, in a genuine attempt to know, and do, the will of Christ, makes the statement, “I want to do something that will cost me something in the way of sacrifice.”

THAT’S what I’m talking about. She’s trying to please God and she assumes (rightly? That’s the question.) that the very nature of sacrifice is pleasing to Him. She’s not talking about sacrificing one thing for another. She’s really not even talking about sacrificing of herself because there’s a real NEED for what she’d be giving. (There IS an undercurrent of using one’s gifts in service, but that, I believe, is a secondary concern in the statement being made.)

Read again what she said. She wants to sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. So, my question is, is that kind of sacrifice pleasing to God?