In the last few blog posts, I’ve been looking at hope and disappointment. Both beg for addressing FAITH. Hope, trust, and faith are all interconnected. I don’t believe you can have one and not the others. As we grow as Christians, as we develop, each aspect grows and matures.
Sometimes, our hope outweighs our ability to have faith and trust. That may cause us to make poor choices, poor decisions, and ultimately stray off our faith journey.
But God knows, and he works to bring us back. The process, however, matures us. Grows our trust and our faith, then aligns our hopes. It is a process.
So, what does stepping out in faith mean?
Some people are really good at this, while others struggle with it. The times I struggled with this the most were when I deeply desired to honor God and do what he wanted me to do. To carry out his will and divine plan for me and my life. I had been a Christian for some time by that point and had many years of looking back and seeing God’s hand of blessing, guidance, protection, and provision. Yet, when next I needed to step out in faith, I faltered. I almost became paralyzed with fear that I would do the wrong thing. I didn’t want to disappoint God.
Paralysis was my reality.
I know you must be shaking your head, thinking… What? But that was my reality. I worried about what I needed to do next. It seemed like what I’ve been doing was such an exceptional blessing, but I now needed to sacrifice more. Who was I to receive so much? Who was I that God cared so much and gave so much? I felt I really needed to so do something that would show Him how much I appreciated all that He has done. But I felt that somehow, for it to be meaningful, it had to be a sacrifice.
So, when I looked at what I was doing and my plans, none of them came up to this standard. A standard that I had set.
Why is it we believe to serve God means to suffer and sacrifice?
I’m not sure I have an answer for this. I know scripture tells us that as followers of Christ, we will be/may be called upon to sacrifice. John talks about laying down one’s life for one’s friends.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
But he’s addressing Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf. I think I had taken that to heart, and it left the misguided impression that I too must sacrifice.
Given much, so serve.
Then, of course, there is the verse in Luke that teaches that those who’ve been given much, much will be required.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Jesus Set an Example
Finally, John talks about Jesus setting an example for us, in how he served us. We need to serve others. In my mind, I translated that as sacrifice, for ultimately, that is what Christ did. He sacrificed his life for us.
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Sacrifice and Mercy.
Then, of course, there are a myriad of verses that tell us that God is pleased with our sacrifices, such as Hebrews 13.
16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Okay, so I hope you get the picture. When I realized how much God had blessed me, I felt that I needed to give back and that giving would require sacrifice. Then I stumbled upon a verse in Matthew. Well, I don’t believe I stumbled, but God, in his mercy, led me to this verse.
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Willingness to Serve
In essence, God is not looking at how much we sacrifice, but rather how much we willingly and lovingly serve others. Mercy… that is what God wants from us. How? Through our faith. We need to step out in faith and be willing to do whatever is before us. We need to trust God that he is in charge, that he is leading the way, guiding us. And if we step off the path, that just like Jesus saved one sheep, so will He come to find us and bring us back.
God is bigger than my mistakes.
We need to trust that God is bigger than any mis-step we take, and any mistake we make. He calls us to step out in faith and love others, as He loves us. Step out in faith and serve that your abilities and gifts allow. Step out in faith trusting that he will provide the way and means. Step out in faith with a desire to serve, and not necessarily to sacrifice.
Just step out in faith.
So, in my desire to serve, I thought I had to sacrifice and unless what I was doing didn’t involve sacrifice; it was not good enough. Never mind what was right before me. I kept looking for something more… something else. A sacrifice.
Then, I had an accident and was relegated to being non-mobile for a time, with lots of time on my hands. Time to read, study, blog, and write. I came to realize that what God had set before me was what I was to do. He gave me an assignment that also continued to allow me to write. He gave me the desire of my heart, yet again.
So… Step out in Faith.
So, I am stepping out in faith and trusting I got it right. But if I didn’t, I know God is bigger than any of my mistakes.
Where are you? Are you stepping out in faith, or like me, have you been paralyzed? Your desire to serve God is real, but you can’t find your direction; can’t chose the best thing to do? Don’t worry. Just do what is before you and trust God to guide you. He will go before you and prepare the way.
Other verses that speak to sacrifice.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.