What is sacrifice? To quote the dictionary, "the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim."
But if I'm honest, I usually think of sacrifice as "something I am willing to give up--for a limited time, as long as it's not too hard."
In disciplining my children, I am learning the value of finding consequences that matter to them. I can take screen time away from Lamb day after day after day to no avail; but if Monkey loses screens for the day, he is humbled and repentant. Why? Because that is something "prized or desirable" to him. (For Lamb, by the way, it is reading time. Who on earth would think you'd have to take BOOKS away from a kid???) I need to find a way to hit close to home so that the consequence makes an impact.
Now, sacrifice is not about punishment or consequences, but still, the point remains: it needs to hit close to home. I could give up broccoli for the rest of my life, but it would make no impact. I could even give up Starbucks--and yes, I would probably get
Sacrifice is about surrender. Or something prized or desirable. For the sake of something higher (BETTER). Sacrifice is about making tough choices.
I have an immensely easy choice to make... and I have made it embarrassingly difficult.
Earlier in this series, I alluded to it. A year ago, I really felt God calling me, pushing me, to make some small sacrifices. Specifically......... I felt like I needed to give up television. (oh.my.word. how ridiculous is this? TELEVISION.) I realized that I was giving too much of my emotional energy to Castle and Beckett, to Bones and Booth, to Olivia Pope. At the end of a frustrating or tiring day, I was turning to the Dunphy family to comfort me and cheer me up. I needed to make a change.
At first I thought, "OK, no problem. I'll give up television for a month." And in the back of my mind I was thinking, "Thank goodness for the DVR so I don't actually have to MISS anything! Whew! Really dodged a bullet on that one!"
Wait... what? What am I actually sacrificing there? I'm just WAITING. Not GIVING UP. If I were going to SACRIFICE it, I would need to just walk away. No DVR. No catching up online. Just.walk.away.
So I did the only logical thing left to do. I blew it off. "What difference does that make?" I justified to myself. "Of course I would give God ANYTHING--you know, like, important stuff. But that's just small stuff. It doesn't matter."
But it does. The little stuff matters. And here's why: because in the battle between flesh and spirit, the one that wins is the one you feed the most.
Every time I choose between right and wrong, no matter how small it seems, I am feeding either my flesh or my spirit. Every little morsel makes one of them stronger. And every time I have sat down in front of the TV for the past year, I knew which one I was feeding.
The little stuff matters.
So I have to decide today who I am going to feed. And if I really and truly want to go deeper, I have to stop feeding my flesh.
You might be reading this and thinking, "Why on earth are you making this such a big deal? What is wrong with enjoying a TV show?" It's a fair question. There is nothing wrong with television in itself. This is not a rant against Hollywood or entertainment or having a show (or a couple of shows) that you enjoy and like to follow. This is a big deal because I have made it a big deal in my life. My unwillingness to give it up was the problem. Look at the definition of sacrifice: "the surrender... of something PRIZED." I don't want to prize my television shows. I don't want them to be important to me. But I have made them just that. They have become an idol in my life, something for which I have been willing to forego a deeper relationship with Christ. It is humbling to type that out, to see it in print, but it is true.
Today. Today I am going to stop feeding my flesh in this matter, and start feeding my spirit. As of right now, I am planning to give it up through October, but who knows--maybe it will turn into a long-term change. For now, I am going to focus on being more intentional with my time--but more than anything, I am giving it up because I want to be able to give God anything. And for the love of Pete, folks... TV should be the least of my "anything" to give.
It's not a big sacrifice. But it's one I need to make. To starve my flesh a little. To hear the voice of God better. To know what the "anything" is that He really wants from me.
So who is on this journey with me? Has God been knocking on your heart? Have you felt Him say, "Before you promise anything, will you give me something?" What do you feel has taken a place of higher importance than it deserves? What small decisions can you make to stop "feeding the flesh" and start "feeding the spirit"?