|Volume 19 Number 10 October 2017||
A sacrifice is defined as “the giving up of one thing for another.” This happens when someone perhaps has two goals to accomplish as a public servant and cannot serve in both capacities. Therefore, he has to sacrifice one dream to succeed at the other. A sacrifice is also defined as “a loss brought about by getting rid of something below its value.” This occurs rather frequently when someone selling a home has a buyer “in hand” who offers less than what is being asked, and the owner sells at the lower amount because he needs the money now.
Another definition of sacrifice is “destruction or surrender of something valued or desired for the sake of a higher object or more pressing claim.” In other words, someone might choose to give up what he really wants in order to accomplish something that would be of more value overall. Our military really doesn’t want to go to battle, but it is willing to do so and stand in harm’s way because it is more concerned for its families and country. Most baseball fans know what a “sacrifice hit” is, but for those who don’t know, it is a bunt or fly ball that enables a base runner to advance a base although the batter is put out. The batter doesn’t do that for himself, for he’d rather hit a homerun. However, he does makes an out for the overall good of the team.
Do you realize we are describing the actions of Jesus? He gave up one thing for another; that is, He gave His life’s blood for the benefit of salvation for others as stated in John 1:29, which reads, “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” When He gave that blood on Calvary, He certainly got rid of something of higher value for the sake of the greater good— that is, the forgiveness of men’s sins. Peter expressed this concept in 1 Peter 1:18, 19, which notes, “You know that you are not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold… but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without spot and without blemish.” Jesus made the supreme sacrifice.
Christians have to make sacrifices also. Just as Moses did, Christians must “choose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:11). Christians must give up sin and the love of sinning. Just because something makes one feel good doesn’t make it right. Further, God doesn’t want a partial sacrifice from His people; He wants the whole heart, body and soul! Listen as Paul told the Roman brethren, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
Frequently, I make the statement that Christians must offer their sacrifices of worship to God. These are not physical, blood sacrifices, but they are the things that we give up and the things that we do for God that show our dedication and loyalty to Him. First, we give up sin and its hold on us. Then, we are free to acceptably offer our sacrifice of worship.
In our assemblies with the saints, we pray, study God’s Word, listen to lessons from His Word, sing hymns of praise and devotion, give of our means and take the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. We do some of these things in our private worship, too. Whether we do these things in public worship or in private, these are means of becoming “a living sacrifice” to God. Peter said, “You… are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The Lord be thanked that we don’t have to offer bloody animal sacrifices any more since Christ became a sacrifice for us. “…He humbled Himself and became obedient to death to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and of those in heaven and of those on earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11). I beg of you that you be mindful to acceptably offer your life and your sacrifice of worship to the glory of God.
Values and Methods of Praising
T. Pierce Brown
Although I am totally opposed to the idea that our preaching and teaching must be of such a wishy-washy, generalized platitudinous nature that our listeners neither know what is wrong in their lives nor how to correct it, I strongly urge all preachers and teachers to consider the scriptural basis, psychological and pedagogical values of the proper kind of praise for the proper kind of attitudes and action at the proper time.
While recognizing the value and necessity of the admonition of Paul to “Reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2) and that the One who loved us above our ability to comprehend said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19), my thoughts today deal with another scriptural theme—the value of proper praise.
We cannot read the Bible without seeing that God is set forth throughout as One to be praised and honored. Why? It is because He has superlatively done that which is worthy of praise! There are some who seem to think that since God deserves all that praise, men do not deserve any. Yet, Paul wrote in Romans 13:7, “Honor to whom honor.” We not only have the right, but the responsibility to give honor and praise to those who act in a praiseworthy manner. Even when Solomon presented a negative side, the positive is evidenced when he said, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth, A stranger, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2) The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:28-30 is not the only one who is to be praised.
Paul practiced what he preached in this respect, for even in books like 1 Corinthians when he rebuked severely, he abounded with expressions like “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4). In most of his books, there is repeated praise for good attitudes and actions.
If I remember correctly, some years ago Duke University did a comprehensive study of groups of students whose wrong answers were marked as wrong with a big red X, and other groups whose right answers were marked as right with a check mark. Even this slight indication of commendation of those that are right instead of criticism of those that are wrong made a marked and significant difference in the effort, attitude and grades of the students. Those who felt commended for being right were significantly better in all areas than those who felt criticized for being wrong. Note carefully a very important point: Both groups knew which answers were right or wrong. The different response was simply in the method by which they were told!
We challenge you to try this principle in your teaching, training and raising children. It will work wonders! If we had space, we could give you many specific examples. I confess that I have probably leaned far more heavily in my preaching toward reproving, rebuking and exhorting, but that in no sense negates the value of what I am here advocating. I also recognize that there is a danger in many of us, if we recognize that we have “leaned” in one direction or the other, to then “lean” in the other direction. May God help us not to do that, for if a man has been sarcastic, nasty, mean, hateful and bitter for forty years, it will not correct that to be so soft, sweet and “loving” that he can see no wrong in anything for the next forty years. The way to correct a wrong is to simply quit it and do what is right, not to try to balance it with an equal amount of wrong in the opposite direction!
One other aspect of praise needs to be mentioned. It is my very strong judgment that praise should be given far more sparingly with regard to those qualities, characteristics, abilities or possessions one has inherited or received automatically than for those one has gained through making the right choices and acting upon them.
For instance, I have three granddaughters and a grandson who are outstandingly beautiful, brilliant or handsome. It is not too difficult for them to discover that, especially since most of their close relatives gush over every trivial statement or action. Of course, it is proper for me to thank and praise God for allowing me to have a wife whose children and grandchildren are so wonderful. However, they do not need to be praised or reminded of that constantly, even by such an unbiased and objective observer as their grandfather! Yet, they do need to be praised and rewarded for tasks well done, duties performed properly and commendable attitudes that are actively evidenced. “Well done, good and faithful servant” is not to be said simply to a five-talent man, but to any person who uses his talents wisely and properly.
Solomon was not commended simply because he was wise. He was condemned because, being wise, he acted like a fool! Note: God commended and praised him for his conscious choice of desiring wisdom. Yet, it is not the having it, but the using of it properly that deserves praise. So it is with beauty, brains or wealth. Praise the proper use of them at the proper time, in the proper way, and you will see great benefit therefrom.