Sacrifice - the cost of freedom
by Gini Crawford
As America is about to celebrate its Independence Day my thoughts turn to the many sacrifices people have made to make our country free. There were our founding fathers who sacrificed their well-being, their wealth, and even their lives for our freedom. Our men and women are over in Afghanistan and Iraq as I write this, yes, to keep our country free but also to give their lives so others can have the freedom we cherish. Some of you who visit this site are from another country, and I would imagine even if your country doesn't have much freedom, you could still tell me some stories about the sacrifices people have made to bring freedom.
In this devotion, I am going to describe the cost of freedom by relating our sacrifices for freedom throughout America's history and God's sacrifice for us.
The sacrifice of a few
Below is an email I wrote to my son in April 2004, who at the time was a Marine officer in Iraq. This note exemplifies the cost of freedom.
I had no idea how many of your fellow Marines had been lost until I saw the "USA Today" newspaper article on Friday. You must be very saddened but proud of what all of you have given and accomplished in Iraq this month. All of you were willing to give the ultimate, your lives, to protect each other. All of you were willing to give the ultimate, your lives, for people who are your enemy and don't even understand or want in some cases the freedom all of you are giving your lives for. All of you exemplified what Christ did for us. He died for us, when we were His enemies and not wanting or even understanding the freedom He had to offer. (Romans 5: 7-11). I am proud of you! I am sure you exemplified "Semper Fi" in every situation and did your best. You and your battalion have been an example to me, to live my life more fully for other Christians and for the lost. We Christians need to make "Semper Fi" our motto. I love you son, Mom.
Throughout the ages people have given their lives for others, and in many cases the underlining reason the sacrifice took place was for freedom. They died so another could literally have the freedom to live free. They sacrificed themselves so others could have the freedom to believe in what they felt was right and so on.
An uncle of my husband's was killed in WW2, on July 10, 1945. I have a framed memorial that President Truman sent his parents after the war. What it says beautifully articulates what a sacrifice it is for a person to give up their life for the freedom of others.
He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, He lives - in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men!
Now we do know a lot of people who wouldn't even sacrifice the time of day for anyone else. Yet there are the few who dare to die to give freedom, and without them we would all be slaves to some type of tyranny!
No greater love than to die for another
I believe we would all agree that giving up your life for someone, shows you are in a special league few people are in. It shows that the person is unselfish and sacrificial since he gave the ultimate gift he could give, his life. It shows that person is truly a man or woman of valor - protecting and caring for people that in some cases he doesn't even know or who could even be his enemies.
I am greatly saddened by a sentiment in our country this time in our history. It is that many people don't seem to understand or even care that others gave their lives to keep our nation free. Yet we know from God's Word what God thinks. In John 15:13, Jesus Christ gives them the highest of compliments - He says there is no greater love than dying for another. And I think you all know Jesus understands this type of sacrifice!
Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 NASB1995®
People give their lives because we are created in God's image
The Bible doesn't give much detail on being created in God's image, but I will try to explain what it means from my studies. The word image (tselem), in the Hebrew language - means similar but not identical. Since we are created in God's image: We have a spiritual nature. We have intellectual abilities and a will to choose. We have a personality that is marked with moral character, emotions, desire for relationship, the desire to sacrifice for and protect those we care about, the want to be loved and to love, as well as the desire for mercy, justice, truth, faithfulness and so on. God has these qualities like we do, yet as you would guess, these qualities in Him are so beyond how we are. Of course God also has attributes we don't have such as self-existence. Sin has also marred these things greatly in us, but we still bear His image in a general but very real way. (Genesis 1:26-27; Colossians 3:9-10).
Maybe you are thinking, "OK, I get you about us being created in God image, but what does that have to do with people being willing to sacrifice their lives for others?" We are only willing to sacrifice at any level because we are in God's image and God Himself sacrifices for us! Since we are in God's image, we have a free will and the power to act out that will for good and yes, for evil. When we decide to do bad or evil things, that’s not God's will but sin. Sin is against God's will. As you would guess, giving your life for others, as Jesus said, exemplifies God's priority to love others and is the noblest thing you can do (Mark 12:28-31; John 15:12-13). Remember, Jesus sacrificed Himself for you out of your need and His love for you (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10).
The ultimate sacrifice of the ages
I need to add something very important before I end this devotion. We can't compare any human giving their life for others, even their enemies, as equal to the God of the universe sacrificing His life for us. Jesus Christ had every right to receive our worship and our sacrifices, but instead Jesus Who created us and everything that exists, Who is self-existent, sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing and always present, allowed Himself to be sacrificed for us. Remember, sin had made us His enemies. (Romans 5:6-10).
... But as it is, he (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26b ESV®
When Jesus was sacrificed on the cross for our sins (not His) - He took God's wrath directed against our sin, and our eternal punishment upon Himself, so we could be set free from the consequences our sin brought to us. Jesus' death on the cross was the cost for our freedom from sin. How do we receive this freedom from sin? By faith in the One Who gave His life for us. (Ephesians 2:1-9).
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus ... But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 3:25-26, 5:8-11 NIV®
Did you know Jesus dying for us brought us back to freedom? Before we are Christians, we could only choose to sin, so we were enslaved to sin. As Christians, we are in God's family and not enslaved to sin anymore. But we still have a sin nature until we are in heaven. So freedom from sin can still escape us when we choose to go back to letting sin instead of God control us. Here’s an example that fits well here: A man was a prisoner of war. However, he didn't stay a prisoner, because a soldier rescued him and ended up giving his life during the rescue. A few weeks later, the freed prisoner allowed fear to overcome him. So he surrendered to life in prison again. (Romans 6:12-23). I believe we would call this crazy, yet we can do the same thing as Christians when we return to sin.
My many great uncle, General Sam Houston, would scream, "Remember the Alamo." (Yes, I am related to Sam Houston.) He was reminding the Texas army of the great sacrifice of lives at the Alamo that allowed them to accomplish their goal of freedom. I feel you would agree, it's even more important to remember what the God of the universe did for our freedom.
Jesus Christ does understand sacrifice! He does understand everyone's need for freedom. He sacrificed His life out of love, so we could have life instead of death and could have freedom from bondage to sin. Read Isaiah 53:3-8; John 3:16-18; Romans 8:1-4, 31-39.
How much a person is willing to do or pay for something shows the worth that item is to the person. Since Jesus was willing to be sacrificed for us, this shows we are God's most valuable possession! What do you think about the knowledge that you are God's most valuable treasure? Since God loves you so much, ask yourself, "How can I love Him back?" One way might be to sacrifice a half hour a day to talk to Him and let Him talk to you - prayer and reading His Word.
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