Genesis 22 | Romans 1:32 | Romans 5:8

Sacrifice is kind of a scary word, isn’t it?

It can be. Even the more benign thought of ‘giving up something for the sake of something else’ can be daunting.

Because who likes giving things up? The idea implies that you want to keep the thing, but choose not to. Not a fun concept.

So why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac? As Miriam and Emma showed us, God wanted to see if Abraham would give up what he loved most in his obedience to him.

“Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

(Genesis 22:12b NLT)

More than just testing Abraham, God was showing what he planned to do for the World through Jesus. Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac is a picture of God sacrificing his own son, Jesus.

But in God’s case, the sacrifice is out of love for a world full of unruly people.

They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

(Romans 1:32 NLT)

God wants you to know how much he loves you. He loves you so much that he does not hold anything back from you–not even his only son. And clearly his love has nothing to do with your behavior, because God did not wait for people to ‘clean up their act’ before he made his sacrifice.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

(Romans 5:8 NLT)

If you really think about it, sacrifice is all about love. Isn’t that a whole lot less scary?

Questions for Group Discussion

  • What do you think of when you hear the word sacrifice? Ancient Pagans? Weight-loss plans? Sports training regimens?
  • Have you ever had to sacrifice something? If so, what? Sacrifice is giving up one thing for the sake of something else–what did you gain through your sacrifice? (What was that “something else?”)
  • Does sacrifice always ‘pay off?’ When you sacrifice something to gain something else, does it always result in something better?
  • What might be some ways to make necessary sacrifices easier? Is that even possible? Is it still a sacrifice if it doesn’t hurt to some extent?

Give it Up: Challenge

Oh, come on… You didn’t expect us to end all this discussion of sacrifice without challenging you to try it yourself, did you?

Here’s your challenge:

As Miriam and Emma did, pick a time interval (a week, a month, etc.) to give up something for something else. Then do it and write down your experience along the way.

Here are some tips to make this a good experience:

  • Give up something that is weighing you down. This way you can experience the freedom from the burden of whatever it is. Video games, unhealthy snacks, and social media are all examples. If you feel a strong urge to give up something beneficial (like basketball or playing the violin), pray about it first. And be sure to keep the time period reasonable.
  • Don’t go nuts on the time period. A year is probably too long. If a month seems like forever, do two weeks. Pick an interval that seems doable, yet still a challenge.

Be sure to make some written notes of your experience. You don’t have to keep a detailed journal, but you will want something down on paper (or on a hard drive) to look at later and learn from. You need the ability to objectively reflect on the experience after some time has passed to gain the greatest benefit.