It Starts with Sacrifice

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In September of last year, my dear husband and I looked at a house. It was a big white farmhouse on three acres and we immediately fell in love. And I mean in love. We started talking and dreaming and pinning ideas on a secret Pinterest board. The house was a foreclosure so in our budget and although we were not looking for a house, this house was perfect. It had almost every detail we wanted in a house.

house2

It also had a lot of details we didn’t want like mold and mice.  But nevertheless, we moved forward.  Did you catch above we looked at it in September? Of last year.  It has taken 6 months to get to this week. Yesterday we signed all the papers to make that white farmhouse our house. It has been a long road. And it really hasn’t even started.  While on paper we own the house, to make it our home is going to take a lot of time and effort.

Life is like this. We may all wish we could wake up tomorrow with beautiful hair, perfect skin, and a beach-ready body. We want our homes to look like magazines and our children to look and act like models. We strive and strive for some societal version of happy and realize at some point, we are exhausted, our house is a mess, and the Instagram filter just isn’t cutting it anymore.  Because the good things in life take work. A lot of work. It takes work no one will ever see. And requires sacrifices no one will ever notice.

The first thing we have to do in our house is remediate the mold so it is safe. This is an expensive process no one will ever notice. No one will walk into our house and say, wow, the mold remediation looks amazing.  But it is necessary.

Sometimes I hate necessary. I want the fun and frilly and pretty. I want the finished product before the initial step. But this is not the life we are called to live. We are called to patience, to sacrifice, to quiet, to love, and to running the race with endurance. To run with endurance means you have to train. It means you can’t just wake up and run 26.2 miles because you think it sounds fun. You may have to start with one mile. or 5 minutes. It means you have to put in the necessary training to reach the goal. Jesus promised us He would be with us each step. He promised His burden was light. But He promised us if we lived like Him, it would be tough. It would take hard work and sacrifice. It would take lots of mold remediation before you get to new paint colors.

But when you do the hard work, the end result is so much better. Sure, we could ignore the mold, slap some paint on the walls, and call it a day. But in a few months, we would all be sick and have a much bigger mess on our hands.  God isn’t asking us to paint over the tough stuff, He is asking us to dig in and work hard to get rid of it. He is asking for the hard work and sacrifice. And He has promised in the end it will be worth it. In the end, we will see Him and we will be complete.

My house here may never be perfect, but I know at some point, I will look around and all the hard work and sacrifice will be worth it. At some point, we will be able to put new paint on the walls and know we aren’t covering up the problems, but we are highlighting the beauty.

Friend, what do you need to remove from your life to get to the beautiful? What sacrifice or costly decision do you need to make to take a step closer to Jesus? It won’t be easy, but I promise you, it will be worth it.

 

“I desire Mercy, not Sacrifice”

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Last week, I spent a lot of time visiting at the hospital. As I was working to rearrange meetings so I could be there for those I love, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages of scripture-

Matthew 9:11-13

11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 This has not always been one of my favorite passages, and I bet most people skim over it and don’t really consider the implications of this verse.  But as I have dug deeper into the life of Christ and what it means to follow Him, this passage keeps coming back to me.

First, you must consider the context. In the few verses before this, Christ calls Matthew to be one of His disciples. Matthew was a tax collector, not the ideal job in Biblical times and probably not the resume you would pick out if you wanted to find someone who would spread your message of hope and compassion to the ends of the earth.  But that’s what Jesus did. He saw the potential in people. He gave them value and entrusted them with a great mission before they were considered worthy.   After Jesus calls Matthew, He goes to eat at his house and naturally Matthew invites a bunch of his friends over.  Enter the passage above. The religious of the day did not understand why Jesus would eat with Matthew’s friends (the tax collectors and sinners).

This is just one reason why I love Jesus. He doesn’t miss a beat and He doesn’t argue with the Pharisees on why He should be or should not be eating with them. He simply recounts for them His mission and charges them to consider what He means- “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” 

Consider those words: mercy and sacrifice.

Mercy–  

Compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; 

A blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion

Sacrifice– 

The act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else;

 An act of offering to a deity something precious

The Pharisees were good at sacrifice. That was their job description.  But Christ comes and says, “Look, I know you are really good at sacrifice, but I really want you to work on mercy. That is how I operate.”  Christ was about to become the ultimate sacrifice in order to offer us ultimate mercy. And as He walked on earth, He practiced mercy. He ate with the tax collectors, He cared for the poor and the widow, He loved people who would never be able to return the favor.  And He didn’t stand around arguing His point or defending His stance. He did not justify to the Pharisees why He was eating with Matthew’s friends. He simply reminded them of His  mission on earth- “I have come to call the sinners.” 

Mercy shows love without expectation.  And Christ was the ultimate example.  He invites us to follow Him, to learn what it means to desire mercy. To love others. And to spend time with those who need to know and understand the hope and love of a Savior who spent His time with the tax collectors and sinners.

So go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’