What happens when we sacrifice our time and efforts for others? Does God really ask us to sacrifice our resources for him? Maybe. But maybe not.
Sacrifice on the Kitchen Counter
“See you, Mrs. Ojeda,” the last teenager mumbled as he walked out the door. I held back tears as I looked at the landscape of the kitchen. Mountains of pots, pans, and leftovers promised another hour of work. I trudged forward and tackled the mess, vowing to take a few minutes for myself when I finished.
The next morning, I scribbled furiously in my journal, pouring out my woes. Not one student had thanked me for preparing an elaborate meal for them. They ate it with gusto, but couldn’t find a word of appreciation? Why did I even make the effort? My litany continued. I sacrificed so much for my students. Time. Money. Taxi driving them to town or skiing. And what did I get in return? “See you, Mrs. Ojeda.”
I knew how to sacrifice my time and efforts for other people, but no one seemed to appreciate it. At all. The more I wrote, the more a verse I learned long ago niggled at the back of my mind. Some verse about sacrifice. Yeah, those Israelites really had the sacrifice thing down—but they got to haul animals and produce to the temple for their sacrifices.
Me? I seemed to sacrifice myself. I flipped through my Bible, sure I’d highlighted the verse at some point in my life. There, in 1 Samuel 15:
“Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.”1 Samuel 15:22 HCSB
Conviction flooded me. I had turned my busy life into a self-imposed sacrifice. I gave up my time and efforts, thinking I could please God by what I brought to the altar. Instead, I just ended up a grumpy, discontent, hot mess.
Here’s What God Really Wants
God doesn’t want my sacrifice, he wants my obedience. Nowhere in the Bible does God ask us to turn ourselves into a doormat with no goals and ambitions of our own. God doesn’t tell us to give up, he asks us to obey him.God doesn't want my sacrifice, he wants my obedience. #selfcare #goals Click To Tweet
As a God who brought order out of chaos, God wants us to obediently seek his will—not randomly sacrifice our time, money, and effort in an attempt to please him. Micah 6:8 sums up God’s will for our lives—to act in justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him.
God wants a partnership where we seek the things he seeks. He wants intentionality of action from me, not just random acts of sacrifice that wear me out and make me grumpy. God wants my best—both in attitude and effort.
Years have passed since that triggering moment of self-pity and despair. I still face mountains of pots and pans each time I entertain students. Sometimes, they thank me as they walk out the door. But it doesn’t matter. I have learned to set goals and priorities. My attitude has changed from feeling bitter about my unappreciated sacrifice to satisfaction in knowing that I have learned to obey.
God wants me to act in justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him. And if that means feeding kids or movie directors, I do it with love. It’s no sacrifice.
Oh my, have I walked in your shoes and unfortunately not too long ago. I put a lot of energy in to my church hoping to ignite a spark in our congregation. Everyone seems to enjoy all I do but feeling overworked and under appreciated seeps into my soul. I need this reminder that God wants me to obey not seek recognition for the sacrifice of time I make. Your words have spoken to me this morning! Thank you for sharing them!
Come look at what I did here, Lord,
see what I did for you!
I gave more than I could afford,
and burned my coat and shoes!
Now I walk with cold bare feet
and shiver to my bones
but I am sure that I will meet
the minimum to atone
for the things that I have done,
and the things I ought,
but skipped since I was having fun
with the baubles I had bought.
To please You, Lord, I tries and tries,
but You only roll Your eyes!
When I first saw your title, I didn’t think I was going to agree with you because of the NT injunction to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and Paul’s saying he would “gladly spend and be spent for you.” But I see what you’re getting at. If we do everything in obedience to Him, it doesn’t matter if others appreciate it–though it’s nice when they do.
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Oh Anita, I’ve been there. Feeling a little sorry for myself because I poured myself out for someone (or a group of people) and there was no expressed appreciation. But God . . . it’s usually after those times when God challenges me with the question of who I did “it” for. Ouch. I’m so selfish sometimes. Sacrificing for others expresses love, even if it isn’t acknowledged as such, and our Father honors our heart-done sacrifices, even if people don’t. 🙂
Doesn’t get much better than Micah 6:8!! Love this friend. I’m in the 22 spot this week.
Thanks for sharing this, Anita. I think we can all relate — probably because we’re all human! But that change of perspective, from sacrifice to obedience, can make such a difference.
God wants my best! Both in attitude an effort! Yes!!!!!
“I gave up my time and efforts, thinking I could please God by what I brought to the altar.” Appreciate your words here. It creates a convicting visual. Great reminder and I love Micah 6:8.