Why do we continue to struggle with our weight (marriages, parenting, finances) when there is a life of freedom, peace, and joy available to us in Christ?
It’s because most of us are not willing to sacrifice what we currently have for the greater gifts that Christ has for us. Let’s face it, sacrificing anything is not pleasant at the time. Even the word itself conjures up a feeling of pain and struggle.
Yet the Bible teaches us that living a life of sacrifice is the only way to enjoy a life of freedom in Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 10:39, says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
I believe that when we get a better understanding of what sacrificial living means, then we will learn how to embrace it and achieve the benefits associated with it.
The Reality of Sacrificial Living
The reality is that many of us are stuck but unwilling to maintain the necessary sacrifices it takes to get unstuck and achieve a healthy weight. We’ve been struggling with our weight for most of our lives and it feels like things will never change.
Despite our feelings of hopelessness, we keep grasping at short-term worldly solutions to end our pain. We keep trying solution after solution but they eventually get too difficult, time-consuming, or we just get bored and move on to the next thing. When we can understand that short-term sacrifice will lead to long-term fulfillment then the concept of sacrificial living will not be so scary.
The solution is found in God. Until we know the true heart of God, sacrifice will always seem like deprivation or punishment, but it’s the exact opposite. Freedom is found in dying to ourselves every hour of every day so that we can live an abundant life.
The Reason for Sacrificial Living
1. God calls us to sacrifice because he understands how easily we are led away by our flesh if we don’t exercise restraint. He knows our propensity to make idols out of everything and how these idols will turn our attention away from Him.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
2. God calls us to sacrifice because he knows that our insatiable desires for food (money, power, sex) will always keep us wanting even more. We try to fill our needs with worldly things instead of Godly things, so no matter how much food we eat, we will always want more; or no matter how much money we make we will always want more; or no matter how much sex we have, we will always want more (ok, maybe this one is only true for the men 🙂 )
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death …” James 1:14-15.
3. God calls us to sacrifice because he knows that He is the only one that can fulfill all of our needs. When we sacrifice our appetites and draw closer to God, He honors our actions, meets us in our time of need, and draws closer to us. Satiety and satisfaction are found in Him alone.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6
The Repertoire for Sacrificial Living
I’m all about making the spiritual practical. As Christians, we can get so spiritual sometimes that we give up our common sense and waste too much time waiting on a word from the Lord for deep, super-spiritual answers when the answer is right in front of us. I’m guilty of wasting so many years of my life as a result.
Here are some practical tools and tips to begin living a life of sacrifice to benefit your health and your entire life.
1. Spend time in the Word (every day) understanding God’s heart for you. When we align with God’s purposes and plans for us it lessens the hold that food and other desires will have on you. He calls us to seek after him and promises us that it will be worth it. More time with God equals less time worrying about being hungry or feeling deprived.
”It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” Proverbs 25:2
2. Count the costs associated with sacrificing. This means to plan, plan, plan. If you plan to wake up early to exercise, then you can’t stay up late at night binge-watching shows on Netflix. If you plan to eat healthier, then get yourself to the grocery store and buy some foods that you will enjoy; get off the phone or the internet and get in the kitchen and prepare some healthy food.
We want change but we don’t want to put in any effort or make any changes. It will take sacrifice. It will cost you but you must understand that the return will be more than worth it.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28
3. Understand the process of change. Change takes time, patience, discipline, commitment, and a whole lot of grace. For example, if one night you break your boundaries and eat after 7:00 when you said you would not, don’t beat up on yourself and sabotage your entire plan. Pray, renew your mind, and keep on going. No guilt, no condemnation, no shame just keep on going. Too many of us think that because we set a goal it should be smooth sailing without any setbacks and they are distraught when setbacks come and quit altogether. Know that they WILL come and gird yourself so that you will continue on in victory from glory to glory.
“Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” Exodus 23:30
4. Get over your fears. Have you ever seen someone lose 20 pounds and then go into self-sabotage mode? Maybe you’ve done it. For many of us, there are painful memories associated with getting what we really want. Fear of success, failure, rejection, or loss of control all keep us from stepping out of our comfort zone so we never receive our breakthrough as a result. For many of us, sacrifice is associated with self-sabotage. The solution is to allow the Holy Spirit to do the gentle work in you of showing you what’s at the root of your fears. You’ve got to deal with the underlying roots to break the cycle.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23
5. See the higher goal. If we keep looking at where we are now, our circumstances can seem overwhelming and even hopeless. But when we can lift up our head and look to our higher calling, then sacrificing in the short-term may not seem so painful. Our lives, though meant to be enjoyed, are not strengthened when we satisfy all of our ‘fleshly’ desires. Rather, set your sights on things higher than just short-term satisfaction. Sacrificial living will help you to accomplish this. It’s amazing the deeper meaning that not having that cookie can have. It can feel so freeing, empowering and strengthening—even though it’s just a cookie! See sacrifice as a way to reach for the higher things of God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
Once you begin to see the word, ‘sacrifice’ as a form of worship; as an opportunity to draw closer to God; a way to strengthen our body, mind, and spirit, and God’s way of saving us from our destructive selves, then sacrificial living won’t be so scary and overwhelming. Continue to seek God’s best for you as you offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God.