Ted Wieler, who was a corporate attorney before serving with me on staff, wrote an essay that is a “must read” for every servant of God. When I first read it about ten years ago it really impacted my life to help me see once again what a privilege it is to serve the Lord.
Sometimes, while comparing one’s life with others, one can start to feel sorry for himself, or even take on a “sacrificial” identity. We think because of a person’s leadership or management ability, “He could have made it big in the business world.” What a tragedy that would be if God had directed differently. Please read and reread the second paragraph particularly until it’s philosophy and understanding has sunk in. Every preacher and his family needs this. Here is what Dr. Wieler wrote:
Christians frequently talk about making sacrifices to serve God. A church schoolteacher remarks, “Government school salaries are twice as much, but I’m sacrificing to serve.” A minister comments that if he were in the business world he would be earning a high six-digit salary, “But, God called me to this office so I’m happy to make the sacrifice.” A missionary, home on furlough, might report to the churches, “Even though we are sacrificing a lot, we are in the center of God’s will.” There is a long tradition behind these remarks, “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all [sacrificed], and have followed thee” (Mark 10:28). All of these statements concerning service to God miss the mark. In an effort to influence future dialogue, I urge you to think of service to God not as sacrifice, but as nothing but pure gain.
What qualifies as sacrifice? Sacrifice requires surrendering something of true value to you. Value exists in anything that you will take action to keep or gain. A sacrificial act occurs when you turn away from something of value to embrace something of lesser value. Turning away from something of lesser value to receive something of higher value is gain. Considered in this light, it ought to be obvious why the statements above represent a wrong view of service to God. Saying, “I am sacrificing to serve God,” is saying, “I’m turning away from something I value more than God to serve God.” I imagine that everyone reading this essay would insist “That’s not what I mean!” That is exactly my point. We truly never sacrifice to serve God.
Look at Jesus’ answer to Peter’s lamentation, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, [i.e. sacrificed] for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive [i.e. gain] 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” (Mark 10:29-30).
Genesis twenty-two is the record of God’s testing of Abraham concerning Isaac. Abraham had two valuable relationships. One was with God. The other was with Isaac. The value decision Abraham had to make was whether his relationship with Isaac was more valuable than his relationship with God. He was willing to release a relationship of lesser value—his son Isaac— to preserve a relationship of greater value—his relationship with God. Abraham gains by showing that his greatest love was for God. Abraham gained as God restored his son to him. Abraham also gained by teaching his son the importance and reality of God in his life.
I urge you to stop thinking about serving God as a sacrifice. Rather, think in terms of your gain flowing out of that same service. The old question concerning perspective is whether your glass is half empty or half full. The answer depends upon whether you are drinking [sacrificing] or pouring [gaining]. When we serve God we are pouring. We are gaining because we are living in obedience to God.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
We sacrifice when we stop serving God to do something else.