I’ve had the topic for this blog post for a while now but wasn’t sure of the timing. But in church today, I heard a powerful statement: It’s not about what we do; it’s about who we are. And as a follow-up, I propose a question: Do you think God wants to receive a gift from you that you don’t want to give?
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I don’t think He does. God loves a cheerful giver. And I don’t want to receive a gift from someone if they don’t want to give it either. Because what matters most to me is your heart, not your actions. You can control your actions, but only God can change your heart. While love exhibits itself through certain actions, actions don’t necessarily mean the love is there.
Almost every marital book touches on this concept of sacrificing in a relationship. I’ve never understood it. I tried to but something just didn’t feel right. So I thought I’d attempt to put my feelings into words.
When we look at the word sacrifice, common definitions involve words such as giving up, surrendering- for the sake of someone or something else. But… I don’t sacrifice when I’m in a relationship and I don’t want my guy to sacrifice for me.
- If you view doing something for me as a sacrifice, don’t do it. This is not love. I want you to want to do it because you love me. That is what brings you happiness. And if that were the case you wouldn’t view it as a sacrifice, honestly. The words we choose to use reveal more of our heart than we realize.
I want to cook dinner, I want see that movie, I want to bless you, I want to make you happy because I love you. But if the love isn’t there, you’re not going to want to. In Ephesians 5, what is the charge to husbands- love your wives. Not serve, not sacrifice- love. The problem is we oftentimes don’t know what love means. We are told it’s sacrifice so we think we are loving, when we really aren’t. We are trying to but something is missing, we are falling short. The words love and sacrifice are not interchangeable. When you love someone, you may do something you don’t particularly like, but you don’t view it as a sacrifice.
- Why would I want you to do something if you don’t want to do it? I don’t. Because down deep, it’s not the silly things you choose to buy me or the fact that you chose to go to the restaurant I wanted instead of the one you wanted, it’s the fact that I crave to be loved. That the love is so strong, you can’t help but put me before yourself. Because you view me as a prize, valuable, a treasure. It’s not something you consciously choose to do; it’s who you are. You can’t not love me. That is what I want.
- This speaks to how we view God, as well. God doesn’t want our sacrifices, He wants our love. And I think the ones that have a view of sacrificing for God, don’t really love Him.
Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Psalm 51:16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
Isaiah 1:11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
1 Samuel 15: 22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
Can we really call it sacrifice if we are getting so much back in return? We can only call it sacrifice if don’t have love in our relationship with another human. We can only call it sacrifice if we don’t comprehend the love God has for us.
I don’t think there is any such thing as sacrifice when you’re a follower of Christ. If you get back more than you gave up, have you really sacrificed anything at all? This is a quote from famous missionary, David Livingstone, given at Cambridge University back in 1857:
“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa…. Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”
I want to give to God because I know how blessed I am. I love Him because I know how much He loves me. So it’s easy. I want to give to my family for the same reasons. And I’ll want to give to my future husband because I’ll know how blessed I am to have someone like him. When you feel like the luckiest person in the world to have your partner, that will trump any feelings of sacrifice or service. And that’s how I hope my future husband will feel about me. You don’t really have to sacrifice at all when true love, real love is involved.
photo credit: Patricia W. Holding hands couple via photopin (license)