Sacrifice – The High Calling of a Disciple
“17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Philippians 2:17-18 NIV
The drink offering Paul referred to in Philippians 2, was a practice that both Jews and pagans offered. It entailed pouring out wine or sometimes a perfume either beside or upon an animal that was to be sacrificed to God (or the pagan god). The drink offering was known to accompany another sacrifice that was given.
“7 The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the Lord at the sanctuary.” Numbers 28:7 NIV
Paul compares the faith of the Philippians to a sacrifice being offered to God and he views his own life as a drink offering that was to accompany their sacrifice and service. Paul saw the Philippians as a priesthood making an offering to God, and he saw his own life as an offering that was offered to God as an addition to theirs. Paul did not see his service as a gift to God, but as sacrifice to God.
As Pentecostals, we enjoy teaching about the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, but we often fail to recognize the sacrifices that must be made in service to the Spirit.
The High Calling of a Disciple
In Philippians 2:17-18, Paul reassures that a faith in God involves both sacrifice and service. Far too often we present discipleship or “faith in Jesus” as the bare minimum for entry into the Kingdom. Too many times in our culture, we present “faith” in Christ as an intellectual agreement or subscribing to certain theological ideals. For us, to have a certain type of “faith” is to agree with the theology of a certain philosophy.
The faith that Paul spoke of in Philippians was different. The kind of faith that Paul spoke about was intertwined with action and sacrifice. As Pentecostals, we like to preach about being filled with the Holy Spirit. We love it when God pours into us as His children. Paul however, in Philippians 2, talks about being poured out as a drink offering for others. Here are two things we should know about the sacrifice and service that is required of a disciple.
1 – Sacrifice reveals where your devotion lies.
There are many Olympic moments that inspire and capture the imagination of the watching world, but a story from the 1988 Olympic Games intrigues me. During the 26.2 mile sailing competition, a Canadian sailor named Lawrence Lemieux was in second place when he spotted two sailors from Singapore who had been thrown into the water by the rough wind and waves. Lawrence chose to veer off course and pull the wayward sailors onto his boat and waited for rescuers to arrive.
That decision cost him any chance of winning a medal, but it sent a far greater message. Sacrifice reveals where your devotion lies. Jesus Himself once said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV)
Jesus’ sacrifice revealed where His devotion was. Because they understood the work of Jesus, the disciples could do no less than sacrifice for Him. We make decisions daily that alter the future of others! What if your mission were less about competing for a medal for your own glory, and was more about hearing God’s passionate call to personal sacrifice to serve God? What if we as God’s people chose to sacrifice when it comes to giving, laying down our own preferences, or making the time to serve when another’s life is at stake? What if we understood that sacrifice reveals where our devotion really lies?
What we sacrifice for in our lives reveals where our devotion lies. Is there anything that you are holding onto, guarding or protecting that could be preventing or delaying the rescue, restoration or redemption of others? What is God calling you to give? What is God calling you to sacrifice?
2 – Sacrifice is a sign of mature commitment.
If we were to stop the world for a minute and think back to the first century, about those 50 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can begin to imagine what it must been like for Jesus’ disciples. Before the last of the twelve died their efforts had brought roughly 500,000 men, women, and children to faith in Jesus Christ. While it is great to talk about the outcome and fruit of discipleship, we often struggle when it comes to speaking about the high cost of discipleship. History tells us that the price paid by the disciples was extremely high.
1. John died of extreme old age exiled to the island of Patmos.
2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
3. Peter was crucified; head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, a Grecian Colony.
5. James, the younger, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle of the
Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at
Coromandel, in the East Indies.
9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis.
10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (what we now call Iran.)
12. Matthew was first stoned and then beheaded.
Why did they have to sacrifice so much? Why was there such a heavy price to pay? Why did they have to put up with the constant humiliation, and hunger, and persecution, and defeat town after town after town?
The disciples were able to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit as they operated in the gifts of the Spirit, because they were willing to sacrifice greatly in service of the Spirit.
When a child is raised in this world, the only reason they can be cared for and brought up is because someone else chose to sacrifice for them. Parents and caregivers willingly sacrifice their time, energy, money, emotions, and resources for that child. Sacrifice not only reveals where your devotion lies, it is also a clear sign of a mature commitment. As you mature in your faith in God, you too should be “poured out as a drink offering.” We want God to “pour into us” and that is important and necessary, but a mature faith requires not only God pouring in, but us choosing to pour ourselves out.
Holy Spirit may You pour into me as I pour out my life to serve others. Sacrifice is not easy or fun to give, but it reveals where my devotion lies and it is a sign of a mature commitment. Lord Jesus You gave Your all for me. How can I do any less for You? Empower me to be a disciple who is willing, ready, and living for You. Amen.