Maybe if I sacrifice some time and go to church this weekend, it will “make-up” for being dishonest with the grocery store clerk.
Perhaps I can sacrifice some TV time and pray an extra five minutes and read a whole chapter in the Bible instead of asking forgiveness from my relative for how I offended her.
I think I’ll sacrifice and give a little extra cash in the offering plate this Sunday to compensate for not following through on that commitment I made to help.
One of the first verses I memorized as a child was Exodus 20:12,
“Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD they God giveth thee.”
Jesus dealt with some religious people of his day who “dedicated” their money to God as a religious “sacrifice” to justify not having to use it to care for their parents (click here to see Matthew 15). These very religious people justified breaking the command, “Honor your father and your mother” with a religious act of “sacrifice.”
It was religious “smoke and mirrors.” And Jesus saw right through it!
The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer Him sacrifices. Proverbs 21:3
God would rather we do what is just and right instead of trying to substitute some religious act or “sacrifice.”
A religious act is something we can do without dying to self. It is our tendency to avoid being crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 says:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
But to do the right and just thing requires us to die to self. It is precisely at the point of dying to self that Christ can live in and through us. Paradoxically the more we try to gain life the more we lose it. The more we lose our lives for Christ’s sake, the more we gain real life.
Losing our lives for Christ will always interrupt and inconvenience our controlled religious life.
Do you remember those old TV announcements, “We interrupt regular programing to bring you this important announcement?”
Christ cannot live through us if we keep getting in the way. We must allow him to interrupt our regular, religious programming in order for him to do the right and just thing through us. For the resurrected Christ to live in and through us we must get on the cross and die to self.
Our Father, forgive us for substituting religious things for the resurrected life. Come and live through us as we die to ourselves.