Sacrifice, Serving



Spending money is something everyone does on a relatively frequent basis. While what people spend their money on differs according to budget and need, the truth of the matter is that we all spend money. Today, our daughter had her yearly dental exam (no cavities!), next week I get my eyes checked, and the following week my husband gets his teeth checked and you know whose teeth get checked last. The LAST thing I want to do is spend money on my teeth but it has to be done. So money is being spent, not on “fun” things but necessary things. After our visit to the dentist, however, to celebrate a no cavities report, we did pick up a tub of ice cream for our daughter. Perhaps not the best thing to celebrate a good dentist’s report with with but, oh well, she is our #4 baby and we aren’t as rigid as we used to be with the first 3. Maybe I owe those guys a few ice creams!

There’s another currency that we all spend but we don’t take time to consider budgeting that currency. This kind of spending is very unpopular among Christians because it takes away from our personal plans. Because we work as hard as we do, time off is precious. The kids need activities, the parents need time together, and everyone needs “me” time. There’s very little time to fit anything else in.

We budget, plan, save, research our purchases, and try to be wise. We work hard to make every penny stretch to its farthest point, and rightly so. Though being wise with our money is a command that the Lord Jesus Himself taught (Matthew 25:14-29), there is another type of spending that we are called to. This spending is, in many ways, more costly to us than purchasing a new home or car. We are called to spend ourselves –

2 Corinthians 12:15 NKJ “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls…”

Would that spending our lives was as easy as spending money! What does the author of this verse, Paul, mean by spending himself? He was saying that he was ready to spend himself, his energy, and resources for the sake of others.

Philippians 2:17 NKJ “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”

Paul rejoiced in giving all that he had, and all that he had was his service to others. It doesn’t seem that Paul was overly wealthy. I get the impression that he had enough to make ends meet through his tent making as well as sporadic support he received from the churches he ministered to. He was so committed to serving those he was sent to, he preached no matter what – if he had support or not, somehow he carried on preaching and teaching (see Acts 18:1-4; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Cor. 11:7-10). He was intent on spending himself as currency – what were the goods he was receiving in return? The people in the churches he helped plant, establish, and oversee – what a priceless treasure.

Matthew 20:25-28 “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, You know that the rules of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

When we receive Jesus into our lives as Lord and Savior, we also are challenged by God to offer ourselves totally in service to God by serving others. Serving God does not consist of sweeping the church floor or cleaning the church nursery in and of itself. When we do such things as sweep the church or clean the nursery, we are doing so in order to serve those people who will come and use the facilities. God doesn’t need the floor to be clean – the people do. God doesn’t need a clean nursery – the babies do. As we serve to meet the needs of people, we are serving God. This service doesn’t stop when we leave the church’s place of meeting; it increases in importance as we serve people in our communities and in our world.

Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

How can we practically serve in the middle of the busy lives that we live? Family is priority, so is work; how do we budget our time? I’ve heard it said by a very wise woman who once reprimanded me for complaining that I didn’t have “enough time” to get things done, that God made the day with 24 hours in it. He, in His wisdom, gave us just the right amount of time to get things done every day. The challenge is to be wise with how we use our time.

While time can’t be relived, we are told we can redeem the time (Eph. 5:16 NKJ “Redeem the time for the days are evil.”). How is it possible to redeem something that we can’t have a refund on?

Colossians 4:5 NKJ “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.”

Living wisely before the world implies serving them, loving them, bringing them to a place where they can experience their own eternal redemption. One of the greatest family outings we can plan with our children is a day spent serving others in our communities, giving ourselves freely to those who have nothing to offer as payment. Balancing fun times with family as well as meaningful times serving others with family is a great skill that will not only impact those we are serving, but our children as well, for eternity. I challenge you to find that balance in your family life; I can promise you the dividends will be greater than a padded 401k.

Go on a spending spree today and take your loved ones with you. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of money to spend – spend yourself and serve others. Whoever knew we could redeem time?

God is so amazing.