Tim Johnson, editor
January 23, 2011
Christian Life: Sacrifice and Progress
The Power of Influence
Children are natural imitators, not only of their parents, but also of each other. Paul alludes to this inborn mimicry when he commands us to "be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1). So, children are "imitators." Parents know this. We see them pick up bad habits from others as they grow up. We may become so focused on peer pressure as a negative thing that we forget that young people can and should influence one another to do good. Yes, it is possible for young and old alike to imitate good. In fact, the Bible commands it! The Bible says, "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good" (3 John 11).
There are important reasons for both young and old to work at imitating good. For one thing, we'll have much less to fear in the way of negative consequences for our behavior. In 1 Peter 3:13, Peter asks, "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?" It's just not very likely that you'll ever get in much trouble or be punished severely for following a good example. Besides this, the Lord will love and appreciate you if you will allow yourself to be influenced to do good. Proverbs 15:9 says that, "The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But He loves him who follows righteousness."
The fact that young people can be influenced BY others necessarily implies that they can also be influences ON others. The Bible commands the young to be good examples, so that others will have something worthwhile to imitate. The young man Timothy was told, "Let no one despise your youth, but BE AN EXAMPLE to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).
We need to encourage the young to BE INFLUENCED for good and BE AN INFLUENCE for good. So we say to the young folks . . .
-- Steve Klein
The Christian life is a life of sacrifice and progress. Jesus showed us what sacrifice really was when he went to the cruel cross and gave His life in order that each one of us might have forgiveness of sins through obedience in Him. His sacrifice paved the way of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him (Heb 5:9). What Jesus asks of us in return for His sacrifice is that we sacrifice our life to do His will and continue to progress along the way.
The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:1-2: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The word "sacrifice" does not mean that which may be convenient for us to do. When we truly sacrifice for the Lord, we are putting Him first (Matt 6:33; Col 3:2) in our life and all the material pleasures, wants, and even our own self-will second. When we really do that, then we are making sacrifices for the Lord. Many things are included in our sacrifice for the Lord. One of the areas in which we are expected to sacrifice for Him is in our giving. We should give to the Lord's cause our money to the extent of sacrifice - not that which is convenient or left over. We should also be willing to work in Christ's vineyard to the extent of sacrifice - not ONLY when everything else that we must do gets done first. That is usually why there is not a lot of work (physically and spiritually) getting done for the cause of Christ. We are not sacrificing our time to ensure first things are taken care of first!
Our bodies are also to be offered as a sacrifice to the Lord. I ask you to read those two verses again. Notice that our bodies are to be sacrificed to God as being holy and acceptable. Anything that we are doing with our body that is not considered holy and acceptable to God is sinful and we are not making sacrifice for Him. Paul says this is our reasonable service, meaning it should be a voluntary service because we love God to the extent that we WANT to do EVERYTHING that is pleasing to Him. Our lives should be lived (sacrificed) so that others can see in us that we are proving those things which are only good and acceptable in the eyes of God. Can that be said of each one of us? Are we really living for God and not ourselves or someone else? We sacrifice to God because of His mercies toward us. Brethren, it is our "reasonable service!"
We live in an age of progress. We see progress in education, travel, and farming. Progress is God's order. Plants and trees grow and all nature rises higher. God has always expected man to progress in life. But what about the Christian? We are not talking about a progress to a higher life socially and financially. In fact, this kind of progress for an individual is often an impediment (Matt 6:25). We are not talking about progress intellectually only because the Devil is wise, but not good. Even Solomon's wisdom did not keep him from sin. The Christian's progress should be a progress in faith, love, and devotion to God. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:58: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." We should always strive to grow in the Lord. Let us run the race so that we might obtain the crown of life (1 Cor. 9:24), pressing toward the mark (Phil 3:13-14).
I would encourage all of us to look at our life and make sure that we are really sacrificing and progressing in the Lord's work. If we are not, then make the necessary changes that will "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
-- Richard Thetford