Sacrifice is reasonable (Rom. 12:1). But the mindset of most people is that self-preservation is more reasonable. We think that sparing ourselves difficulty & discomfort is sensible. We’ve built a framework that incentivizes selfishness. From the smorgasbord of the entertainment industry, to the twisting of the medical field to drug and carve and indulge the patient’s imagined vision for themselves, we are a culture consumed with self. But this is unreasonable; like trying to grow a crop of corn by planting popcorn.
Both Moses’ Law and throughout the Psalms we see that thanksgiving is expressed through sacrifice. The sacrificial system was the way in which Israelites demonstrated their gratitude for God’s covenant mercies. The Psalms further revealed the ethical reality that thankfulness is demonstrated by sacrifice (Ps. 116:17).
If we put this together with Paul’s instruction to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice we can see the necessity of the material discomfort of obedience. Thankfulness ought not to be merely in an inwardly felt affection; but rather it is to be manifested in the actions of obedient sacrifice. Preparing a feast, raising children, supporting a ministry financially, caring for aging parents, protecting your nation from invasion, and feeding the impoverished all require your material expense and physical exertion.
If you insist on self-preservation you are insisting on self-ruination. That’s just how God made the world. He made it such that sacrifice reaps glory. Scattering seeds in the soil looks momentarily like wastefulness; but in the harvest those seeds have multiplied. So, in the end, selfishness, in all its forms, is the truly unreasonable ethic. The Lord’s wisdom turns our sensibilities upside down. True reasonableness is to sacrifice yourself. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, decide beforehand to not begrudge the physical, financial, and relational sacrifices you must make. Those sacrifices will soon become glories.
Ben Zornes – November 19, 2023