What do you sacrifice in your life right now? Sleep? Relationships? Comfort? Health? Time? Money? Your future?
There’s a very clear message we convey through what (and how) we make sacrifices in life. Said another way, our sacrifices reveal what’s important to us. This is true because the nature of a sacrifice is to give something up for something that is more important to us. There’s a cost we’re willing to incur in exchange for something we perceive to be better. What we sacrifice for may or may not actually be better, but our willingness to make a sacrifice for it is evidence about what we believe to be true and valuable in life.
Think about what is taking place in your mind and heart when you cook a meal for someone who is ill or has just had a baby. What are you giving up by providing the meal? You’re choosing to spend that time making and delivering a meal instead of on some other activity you could have used that time on. You’ve given up your leisure and possibly some money as well. What are you valuing more than that which you’re giving up? Through your sacrifice of time, leisure, and money, you desire to bless the recipient of the meal and care for their well being. Your sacrifice provides proof that you value the person you are serving and want to communicate care and concern for them and their condition. It is love in action, and I’ll bet you are blessed as much or more than the person you have served.
How about another, maybe not so positive, example? What about the person who becomes very unhealthy because he eats poorly and rarely exercises? What sacrifice is this person making? What is he valuing higher than good health? Thankfully, what we value and sacrifice is our choice to make. If I choose to make a habit of eating unhealthy food and being physically inactive, I’m giving up good health in favor of the fleeting pleasure of good taste and a sedentary (maybe lazy?) lifestyle. The reverse is also true. Consistent exercise coupled with healthy food choices gives up some of the enjoyment I might experience of eating high sugar, high fat foods all the time. Regular physical activity gives up the comfort of sleeping in or sitting down all day… however, I can choose to do both in exchange for something that clearly has more value to me long term – being healthy.
In our business, we see a very wide array of financial decisions people make. Some are good, some are not. As in other areas of life, our financial actions reveal what we value most. Unfortunately, there’s often a disconnect between what people say is important to them, and the money decisions they are making. Consider the couple who says they want to be able to help their kids pay for a college education but never saves a dime toward that goal. They are sacrificing being able to help pay for college later in exchange for more money to spend today. On the other hand, a decision to save for the goal today would be the evidence of their purpose/goal becoming more important to them than the current enjoyment of higher spending. This is a blunt truth, but it’s why most Americans are so ill prepared for key financial goals such as retirement, college, emergencies, medical costs, home ownership, etc. We as a culture in general value the here and now more than being prepared for the future… so, we spend too much now at the expense of our future financial independence. Being wise with money means bringing all your money decisions into proper alignment with your life purpose and financial goals, in that order. The stronger your purpose and goals, the easier it will be for you to consistently make the necessary sacrifices to fulfill them!
Finally, to this point, our examples have been based mainly on the sacrifices of money, leisure, and time. These illustrations have certainly helped us identify what cost(s) we’re willing to incur to gain those things we value most as human beings. Yet there is one ultimate, life-changing application of this principle that we absolutely don’t want to miss… the sacrifice made on the Cross! God sent His only Son as our perfect sacrifice, dying in our place, paying the debt we could never pay on our own merit. His grace far exceeds the depth of my sin and yours. This news gets even better! As we’ve looked at in our other examples, what we’re willing to sacrifice FOR represents what we value MOST – so if Jesus sacrificed His life for you and me, what does that communicate to us about our worth to Him? Wow, THAT truth is life changing!