You’ve probably heard of the marshmallow experiment. A child is placed in a room with a treat on a table and told he can eat it now, or he can wait 15 minutes and get two treats. Some kids devour the marshmallow immediately; others try to hold out but end up nibbling or gobbling. Only those willing to sacrifice immediate gratification receive the double reward.
Sacrificing means surrendering something for the sake of something else. Success in life requires many sacrifices. We surrender marshmallows almost indefinitely for the sake of better health. The student surrenders an evening out with friends to study for an important test. The athlete surrenders comfort and ease for a shot at a championship. The musician surrenders thousands of hours for the sake of art.
Sometimes we would rather avoid it, but the truth remains: Anything truly worth having requires sacrifice. You must give up your time, money, comfort, pleasure, convenience, opportunity, independence, prerogative or other things. The greater the goal, the more you have to sacrifice.
But for the right goal, the sacrifice is worth it. Sacrifice opens doors to greatness—even transcendence.
God is driven by the greatest, most magnificent goal possible: to enlarge the God Family. And family is worth sacrifice.
For God, pursuing this goal has required extraordinary planning, investment, resolve, zeal, toil, struggle—and countless sacrifices, some unimaginably severe. At Passover, God’s people memorialize the greatest sacrifice of all. The Most High God offered His only eternal and loving companion, at genuine risk of losing Him for eternity. The Word surrendered His divinity, took on the form of a servant, gave His flesh over to satanic persecutors, and risked dying forever for the sake of the healing and salvation of sinners (Hebrews 12:2).
God sacrificed His Son to offer others sonship. Christ sacrificed to the death to extend life to others. The God Family sets the unsurpassable example of sacrifice—sacrifice that opens the door to far greater things.
On the human level, Abraham sacrificed his beloved son, and that guaranteed spiritual and material promises from God that have shaped human history (Genesis 22:16-18).
God asks us, like Abraham, to follow His example. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). We are to sacrifice not by dying, but by living—sacrificing our will every day for the sake of God’s will. In fact, by emulating His model of sacrifice, we participate in the advancement of His ultimate goal: God shaping more selfless members of His Family.
By building so much of the human experience around family, God gives us specific opportunities to develop the sacrificial mindset needed for His goal.
Success in family requires many sacrifices: giving up personal freedom and flexibility in order to marry, and still more to have children; eschewing attractive alternatives to embrace the demanding roles of provider and homemaker; surrendering that evening of personal pursuits to help your daughter with her research paper; redirecting that vacation money to pay expenses for your son’s soccer season; giving up space, energy and privacy to move your sickly, widowed mother into your own home.
Right-thinking people can recognize the nobility in prioritizing and sacrificing for family. However, this Satan-inspired society has come to venerate individual fulfillment and self-actualization instead. Far too many people have lost their natural affection (2 Timothy 3:3). “Natural affection” here includes that sentiment which drives a man to pursue a woman and to devote himself to providing for, protecting and educating his family. It includes the tendency that motivates a woman to voluntarily subject herself to her husband and to welcome the labors required in having and rearing children. When that affection is absent, individuals go their own way, and families shrivel or splinter—or never form in the first place.
Assess your roles within your physical family and within God’s spiritual Family. Ask yourself: How much have I picked up the world’s thinking regarding family?Am I willing to make the sacrifices necessary to help my family flourish? How much do I need to change to truly think as God does?
It takes spiritual depth to even understand this God Family concept, and commitment to follow through with it. Anytime you struggle with surrendering time, money, comfort, short-term pleasure, convenience, opportunity, independence, prerogative or anything else, ask yourself: Is this for the right goal? If it is sacrifice for the sake of physical or spiritual family, the answer is likely in the affirmative! Your sacrifices are going toward something even greater than pleasures, comforts, recognition—greater even than achievements, championships or art. You are sacrificing toward the ultimate goal.
Meditate on God’s example of sacrifice. He asks nothing of you that He has not already done infinitely more. And whatever sacrifice He asks of you, He promises not just a double reward but manifold more in return! Jesus promised in Mark 10:29-30, “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”