And we’re not supposed to give up. We’re supposed to fight for what we want. Be tenacious. Never give up.
But what if our goal is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourself?
Do we sometimes have to accept the unacceptable in order to love well? Even when we feel like we’re the good guy in the situation?
A Portrait of Love
Jesus was the ultimate example of accepting the unacceptable in a situation where He wasn’t the one to blame.
He could have opted out of the cross. Refused to sacrifice for people who weren’t treating Him well. Stood on His rights as the God of the Universe.
But He didn’t. Instead He went to the Father and asked Him, What do you want me to do?
A Portrait of our Culture
Too often we fight for our rights without taking the time to go to the Father.
Instead, we pick up the latest self-help book, turn on the afternoon talk show, or search through the advice column in the local paper.
They all say the same thing: Is he meeting your needs? Is he willing to meet your needs? If the answer is no, the decision is implied – he’s outta here.
In a life-is-about-us world, sacrifice feels like an unacceptable option. But in a life-is-about-God world, sacrifice is often the best option.
Love is a Sacrifice
God asks us to sacrifice to love others well. Listen to these verses:
Matthew 5:43-44, 46 You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Romans 15:1a Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
The Joy of Sacrifice
Sacrifice isn’t just our best chance for obedience. It’s often our best chance for joy.
Think of it. Are we really happy when we stand there with clenched teeth and folded arms saying, Things have to be my way, to a person who isn’t willing – or maybe even able – to do things our way?
Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. He knew that obedience would lead to joy.
We endure our crosses thinking it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to us. But when we make that sacrifice with our heart as well as our behavior, He surprises us with joy. When we only make the sacrifice with our behavior, He doesn’t.
That’s why it’s so important to take the time to renew our minds and see life from God’s perspective.
Because when we see life from His perspective, we actually want to obey Him.
And when we want to obey Him, it’s easier to submit with both our behavior and our heart.
And when we submit all the way – that’s when the joy comes.