Sacrificing Cherished Belongings and Accolades

Several years ago on a trip to Baltimore, I had a Nigerian taxi driver tell me something I hope to never forget: “When you come to America and look around, you see what so many men and women died for.” He talked about the freedoms we have that he had never imagined experiencing.

I was moved. I couldn’t help being proud to have so many soldiers in my family. The sacrifices made and the lives lost were not in vain, and they haven’t been forgotten.

My new friend proved that to me. When you have to give up doing something because it isn’t the right thing to do, or when you give of your time, your gifts, or your possessions, God is glorified. We know that part. But your sacrifice is not ignored. You may not realize the impact your sacrifice has but you can know that it is noticed by God. He honors it. He loves to see you give.

Think about something you own that you really love. Something that makes you feel good just by having it. I personally LOVE perfume. I have far too many body sprays to count. But I know there’s a difference in my body sprays and my perfumes, other than the cost. My little sprays that I cover my body in multiple times a day just don’t last. They are cheap, but they smell great for a little while, so I use them . . . quickly! But my perfumes, oh my. There is no greater gift to give me. A couple spritzes last all day. I cherish those perfumes and I try to use them sparingly!

Read John 12:1–8.

After you’ve read the passage, go back and read it again, this time considering your “cherished item.” Think about what it might be like to give it up completely for the sake of Jesus knowing your love for Him in a very personal way. Would it be worth it? Absolutely. Would it be the easiest thing you’ve ever done? Absolutely not.

Mary poured out a pint of her expensive perfume — enough to fill the entire house with the fragrance — and anointed Jesus’ feet with it. What an incredible act of sacrifice! Her sacrifice was private, except for a few bystanders.

Mary loved her Savior in a way that we all should. She knew He was the most important person in that room, and she was willing to accept criticism from the others watching for the sake of Jesus’ glory. She made the most of her time with Jesus knowing it was limited. Because of the end result — Jesus’ blessing and God being glorified — she knew her sacrifice was worth it.

The same way my Nigerian friend recognized the sacrifice of the men and women who have fought for our country, Jesus recognized Mary’s sacrifice and He honored it. Jesus does the same for us still. Your sacrifice for Him is not in vain, it’s not pointless.

God still defends us. (Check out Ex. 14:14!) And fights on our behalf. Jesus’ death on the cross was the biggest sacrifice imaginable and its effects continue today.

When have you felt God asking you to give something up for Him but brushed that feeling away because it might make people criticize you? I’m pretty sure we’ve all done it. The thing is, in the moment it feels like the people around you are the most important. That they are the ones who help you make it or break it in this world. It’s really hard to think of anything else!

But God asks us to be different from the world. That doesn’t mean that we have to wear a huge sign that says, “I love Jesus!” It does mean that we follow God’s plan for us, not our own plan. And certainly not the prom queen’s plan for us.

The Christians in the Bible were accused of “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Would you be accused of that? What could you be doing differently to help be a light in the world? Would it take a sacrifice on your part?

Take a lesson from Mary today. Don’t miss opportunities because the protocol told you to do something else. Spend time with Jesus. Give for and to Him no matter what your schedule or your friends say. The joy is worth the sacrifice.

 

Allison Turner is a former National Acteens Panelist. She and her husband, Travis, live in Blytheville, Arkansas. Allison loves missions and working with teenage girls.

A version of this article first appeared in March/April 2015 The Mag.

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