|Volume 24 Number 11 November 2022
“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16 NKJV). This text describes some Jewish Christians who, because of their knowledge that Jesus was the Messiah, were no longer able to worship with other Jews. Praise and acts of service had become their sacrifices – ones they could offer anytime, anywhere. In other words, when they served others, God was pleased with the “sacrifice.” What was true for them, then, is still true for us today. God intends for us to offer sacrificial service to Him by serving others.
We must serve others with a sacrifice that is costly (Acts 4:32-37). To give sacrificially requires more than a token effort or gift. God wants us to give voluntarily, but He wants it to mean something. Giving to God what costs you nothing does not demonstrate commitment.
We must serve others with a sacrifice that is dedicated (Matthew 19:21). Does dedication mean that we should sell everything we own? Not necessarily. We should, however, be willing to give up anything if God needs for us to do so. This kind of attitude allows nothing to come between us and God, and that attitude keeps us from using our God-given wealth selfishly. If you are comforted by the fact that Christ did not tell all His followers to sell all their possessions, then you may be too attached to what you have.
We must serve others with a sacrifice that is complete (Romans 12:1). When sacrificing an animal, a priest would kill the animal, cut it in pieces and place it on the altar. Sacrifice was important, but even in the Old Testament, God made it clear that obedience from the heart was much more important (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Amos 5:21-24). God wants us to offer ourselves, not animals, as living sacrifices – daily laying aside our own desires to follow Him, putting all our energy and resources at His disposal and trusting Him to guide us. We do this out of gratitude that our sins have been forgiven.
Our sacrifices are especially pleasing to God when we ‘do good and share’ out of a heart filled with genuine love. Such sacrifices tend to make our service to others a matter of grace rather than constraint.
Humility When Blessed
Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, “Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land”; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9:4-5 NKJV)
Moses spoke to Israel clearly: It is not because of you. Too many times, we experience blessings and conclude that we, our actions, our thoughts, our deeds or even our righteousness are the cause of blessings coming to us. Consider Israel as a prime example of the exact opposite being true. Instead, it was God’s divine punishment that brought them this array of blessings, together with their forefather’s incredible faithfulness to God. If Israel wasn’t to consider itself as anything special due to the blessings it received, what lessons can we learn about humility when we receive blessings today?
When Blessed, We Need to Learn to Honor God. When we are blessed, we need to learn to honor God for those blessings instead of thinking of ourselves. The failure to honor God is exemplified in 1 Samuel 2:29 where God rebuked the judge and High Priest, Eli, because he did not honor God when he was blessed and provided for by the sacrifices of the Israelites. Instead, he honored his sons more than God, leading to their continuing sinfulness with the people of Israel at the very entrance of God’s Tabernacle. In contrast, David spoke truth when he said, “Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all” (1 Chronicles 29:12).
When Blessed, We Need to Learn to Bless Others. The poor are always present in this life. When God has blessed us with bounty, we ought to be looking closely for those who have needs that are unmet. Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). Jesus condemned the rich fool in His parable because the man received an exceeding great harvest and thought only concerning himself – ultimately losing the opportunity to experience any of those blessings (Luke 12:20).
When Blessed, We Need to Learn to Remember God. We need to be careful not to forget Him. God warned Israel not to allow their comforts and their blessings to cause them to forget Him, the One Who provided those things (Deuteronomy 6). They failed to heed that warning. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
[Editor’s Note: Step back and observe. There’s not very much humility discernible around us in the world. Even among God’s people, humility is scarce, but it ought not to be so. Unfortunately, sometimes, church leaders also are devoid of the amount of humility that one might expect from them – elders, preachers, deacons and other spiritually mature members. Strive for in yourself the degree of humility in your life that might tempt you to rightfully note you’re the humblest person you know – except that saying aloud, of course, might appear to speak to the contrary. In any case, we need to periodically examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]