Finding God's Winning Spirit

True Christian Sacrifice

July 28, 2014 | Greg Smith | Devotional


If one had to describe the life of Christ in one word it would have to be sacrifice. If we want to model Christ then our Christian lives should be sacrificial lives. This is precisely what Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:1-2 when he writes, “Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God”(ASV).  The problem is that many Christians do not understand the New Testament concept of sacrifice.

Most of us hear the word sacrifice and we equate this with forfeiting something or losing something we like or value. This is not what God is asking us to do – this is not even consistent with Webster’s definition. Webster defines sacrifice as “an act of offering to a deity something precious” or “to surrender something for the sake of something else.”  If we look closely at these two definitions we realize that sacrifice is not about losing anything. Let us take a closer look at these two meanings.

If the first meaning is correct then we are to offer God something that is precious. What could this be, what could we possibly have that God would deem precious?  The answer of course is our hearts. God wants us back so he can make us whole. Giving ourselves to God simply means putting him first. This is what Jesus is talking about in Luke 9:23 when he says, “…. if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (NKJV). In essence we are asked to give God ourselves and become complete – this is not forfeiting this is winning.

The second meaning of sacrifice tells us to surrender something for the sake of something else. Some individuals view surrender as defeat or forfeiting something they value. This is not the New Testament concept of sacrifice at all. We are simply asked to exchange a broken life for a full life. God is giving us the chance to exchange a worried heart for a peaceful heart, a troubled mind for a calm mind and weariness for rest.  Sacrifice builds faith and we cannot have new unless we surrender the old. This is not losing, this is gaining – this is not losing, this is winning.

Once again theology and sports agree. Any athlete worth his or her salt knows what it means to sacrifice. No matter if it is through hours of practice, following a regimented diet or monitoring sleep, athletes have to make sacrifices. They know that there is a correlation between sacrifice and success and that one increases the chance of the other. Mature athletes know that whatever is sacrificed pales in importance to what can be achieved. The Christian athlete knows this from the model of Christ and brings this kind of leadership to his or her team.

Coaches have told athletes for years that there is no “I” in team. This means that the individual must sacrifice self for the good and goal of the team. As Paul (Bear) Bryant once said, “In order to have a winner, the team must have a feeling of unity; every player must put the team first - ahead of personal glory.” Christian athletes are more prone to be team players because they understand that being less focused on themselves allows them to become part of something greater. They understand what it means to be part of a team because they are part of the body of Christ. 


(Excerpt from Sports Theology: Finding God’s Winning Spirit – Greg Smith) 

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