The world teaches us to seek fame, glory and recognition for the good works we complete. The world teaches us that validation and receiving appropriate recognition and appreciation for what we do is the only way to feel fulfilled. The world teaches that if you seek to obey and honor your husband, you are subjecting yourself to oppression, suppression, and abuse. The world teaches that if you give up your body for a child, it will lead to suffering and the death of your “autonomy”. If you do decide to have a child anyway, it should be on your terms, and that in order to have a fulfilled life, you need to serve and honor your own needs as much as possible before you pause/ruin/disrupt your life with a baby.
God teaches, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). We are to think of the needs of others before our own. We (men and women alike) are not to live so that we might be empowered, uplifted, and given the space to discover our “best self”. Our “best self” IS found in Christ, and Christ alone. It’s our best self, because it is not really our self at all. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation - given new desires and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in righteousness. Obedience to Christ is what makes us free. Self-forgetfulness is where we are able to see the goodness of Christ and realize that we are not here to find glory, but here to use our bodies, our minds, our abilities all so that we might Glorify the One who created us and gave us eternal life. My body is a vessel for the Kingdom of God. My body is not my own. What good is a body that isn’t used for the purposes God gave it, but instead preserved for the sake of my own goals, purposes, and influence? Christ gave up His body so that we might be saved. The least I can do is try, in my own little ways, to give up my body so that I might reflect Christ and honor His calling on my life.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”(Mark 8:36-38).
Christian, pursuing sacrifice does not mean that we cannot have a life full of joy. What does a full cup do but overflow? Christ is our all, and He is the one who makes our cup overflow. While there are so many little things that we might do that go unnoticed, Our Father in heaven sees everything. Our life is not a competition to see who can give the most - that ruins the whole purpose of it being truly sacrificial. A bitter and resentful heart will only see sacrifice as a means to compare, manipulate, and keep score. Pride is the destroyer of a sacrificial attitude. The desire to protect oneself and one’s own needs above others will only leave us feeling empty and discontented. It can be hard to see when we are in the thick of it, I get it! As a new mom, there are so many moments where it is tempting to keep score of my sacrificial works and sit back, hoping to receive recognition. Christian, this is not the way! When vainglory seeps in, it will destroy our ability to submit to the calling of Christ in our lives and give ourselves fully to the calling of mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, or anything else. When we expect to be served, but hate to serve, we are not honoring God with the body and mind that He has given us.
At the end of the day, a tired soul is a full soul. A soul that has given so that other souls might be nurtured, loved, fed, cared for, taught, served, uplifted. When we give of ourselves fully, we meet the end of ourselves. That’s the whole point! When we feel we can give no more, that is when our cup overflows by the gracious power of the Holy Spirit, and we can miraculously keep on giving! When we have no more, it is Christ who gives us what we need to carry on. There are many ways in which we might hold back in fear that if we give more of ourselves, we won’t have any left! That’s the beauty of the Christian walk. We don’t have to do it on our own. Christ will give you strength. “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”(James 4:2-3). Ask for strength so that you might finish your daily tasks or bring a meal to another family even when you are busy. Ask for grace, so that you might be gracious towards others. Ask for energy so that you might give every ounce to your little ones and your husband. Ask for patience so that you might use it when you are being tested. Ask for all things from God so that they might be USED according to His purpose. Serve, sacrifice, not for your own sake, but for the sake of the One who loves you, and gave Himself fully for you!
Inspired by Rachel Jankovic's books Fit To Burst and Loving The Little Years.