Thursday, May 22, 2014

Giving away or giving up?

One of my dear missionary friends, Cas, wrote a blog post that got me thinking. She really put into words what I've been trying to say for a while. I've written a follow up to Cas' post. You can read hers: click HERE
Thanks for writing this Cas! If you don't have time to read her whole post, the following paragraph is especially powerful:

"Friends, if sacrifice feels easy, it’s not really sacrifice. Real, true sacrifice costs you something that you have to give up, not just give away. The giving away is easy. The giving up is hard."

In her post, Cas talked about cheerfully giving away many of her things but cringing at the thought of giving away her sewing treasures. With her daughter's help she chose to give up some of her treasures and send them to a village where the Bible workers are offering sewing classes. These classes are one way that the Bible workers can gain rapport with the villagers and build friendships that have the potential to extend into eternity.

A few months ago I packed and shipped a couple "Christmas" barrels with gifts and other needed items for the missionaries in Guyana. In those barrels were two older but good quality sewing machines that had been given to GMI through a donation that I had organized. I asked the missionaries in Guyana to "hold" the machines for me until DJ and I got back there, with hopes of using them at the mission school where we were staying. I'll admit that I was a little upset when I heard that the sewing machines had been sent out to Bible workers in remote villages without even asking me!

As I read Cas' blog post, I quickly resounded with the difference between giving something away and giving something up. I sent down all sorts of things in the barrels that I "gave away" cheerfully. But I didn't want to give away those machines because the sacrifice seemed so great. ...they were so nice, they would have been so handy to have, I could have kept at least one of them... such selfish thoughts! Over time, God reminded me that I had freely received those sewing machines and that I should freely give them too. He helped me "give up" those machines. It was hard, but I knew the Bible workers really needed them.

You know, God gives things away all the time - things like life, air, health, strength, good food, clean water, and the list goes on... But there is one thing that God gave up. That one thing was Jesus. Jesus gave up his home in heaven to life here in this dirty, sin-sick world. He gave up His place in heaven for a short while to show us what a life connected to the Father could be like. And then He gave up His life as a sacrifice to take the place of man's sins. That sacrifice wasn't just for Adam; it was for you and me. It cost God something. God gave up Himself so that you and I could simply have the option of eternal life. Jesus' death didn't even secure our decision to take that free gift, it just gave us the option.

When we go through experiences that allow us the opportunity to give up things, let's rejoice with the apostle Paul who said in his letter to the Philippians:

"Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own..., but that which comes through faith in Christ. ...
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ...
[For] our citizenship is in heaven."
Philippians 3, ESV

To quote Cas again,
"Friends, if sacrifice feels easy, it’s not really sacrifice. Real, true sacrifice costs you something that you have to give up, not just give away. The giving away is easy. The giving up is hard."

God has given us the ultimate Gift in Jesus Christ. Will we accept His sacrifice and choose eternal life? It's truly the only thing worth living for; and it's surely the one thing worth giving up everything for.

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

JODI!!! Thank you soooo much for sharing those great words!!! I just was finding a bookmark with your blog on my broken computer, before I throw it away and read that you guys came back to Bolivia??!?! for me its not coincidence anymore ;) I´m here too! In Sta. Cruz working in a hoagr de ninyos again ;) as a social worker! are you still here? lets meet! :) all these months I wanted to get to know the famous "canal" ;) I can´t find your email so I leave you mine in hope you have some time :)

abrazango, Ingrid (ingrid.martin.86@googlemail.com)