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Editor’s journey

That ugly word sacrifice

PASADENA, CALIF. — Because my family was relatively poor, I couldn’t understand why my dad was so generous. From the family car to our living room furniture, he gave things away to people in need.

One day, while sitting cross-legged on the floor where my favorite recliner once sat, I asked, “Dad, why do you give away all our stuff — you earned it, don’t you deserve it?”

He smiled as if anticipating my question: “Life isn’t about what you can get; it’s about what you can give away,” he replied.

Somehow I knew he was right, but as a 10-year-old boy I didn’t care much for his theology. Other kids wore new tennis shoes, rode expensive bicycles and bragged about huge allowances. I couldn’t help but blame our poverty on my dad’s generosity.

As a teenager, I finally realized my dad wasn’t reckless in his sacrifice. He was simply following the teachings of Jesus and investing in people. Today there are men and women serving God because they were blessed by Dad’s acts of kindness.

Sacrifice is not a popular message today because many measure success by tangible possessions rather than by treasures in heaven. They gauge God’s blessing by how much they can consume rather than by what they can share.

Some of the most joyful, fulfilled people I know have a spirit of generosity — much like the Macedonian believers in 2 Corinthians 8:2-5: “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. ... They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (NIV).

God promises to bless sacrificial givers in 2 Corinthians 9:6: “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

God may not ask us to give away our La-Z-Boy or the family car, but He wants us to live as though “sacrifice” is a beautiful word.

Hal Donaldson

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