This time of year there are lots of ways to give ourselves away. It could be that we give financially to a charity; we could give away our time volunteering at a Thanksgiving Dinner at the local co-op, or we could go through items in our house, and literally give away items that we all need.
While all that makes me feel good inside, I have to constantly ask myself, “What’s my motivation here?”. Is it because someone at church told me I should? Is it because I’ve done it before I feel bad if I don’t do it again? Or, if I look deep down, is it really because I’m trying to earn God’s favor?
Convicting right? I think the thing we forget often is that if it’s truly all God’s, then we should be joyful to “sacrifice” it back to him – our money, our time, etc.
In Genesis 22, God asks Abraham to give up the ultimate sacrifice, his son:
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham calledthat place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Now this might be an extreme example, but I feel like it shows a lot about God’s grace and mercy.
- Thank God for how He was merciful not only to Abraham, but how He’s been merciful to you.
- Ask God to show you what you truly love right now. Is it something you need to give away? Is it sitting on the throne of your heart right now?
Have extra time? Want to go deeper?
- Read Genesis 22 again. What did Abraham have to believe in order to be willing to make the sacrifice? If you were him, what would you do? What do you think Isaac was thinking?
- Spend 5 minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to penetrate your heart, and show you things that you might love more than Christ right now. As they come to mind, write them down. Afterwards, go through the list asking for forgiveness for each, and concluding with praise and thanksgiving for God’s grace.