"Sacrifice" is a funny little word. It conjures up images of pain, hurt, and unfinished to-do lists. This word especially takes on a warped meaning when combined with the word “Lent.”
Growing up, Lent was always a little bit of a joke. We teased each other for the excuses we all made for giving into the things we had given up.
My Grandma always had the best excuse. She said that Lent is technically only 40 days if you exclude Sundays, and that on Sunday, she could “break the rules.” I’m almost positive she somehow found biblical support for this, and I wasn’t going to argue if it meant my Sabbath was filled with Thin Mints.
That’s how sacrifice is most of the time, though, isn’t it?
Sure, you’ll give something up, but the moment it begins to sting, all bets are off. At the end of the day, we sacrifice with a string attached, hand in a fist, ready to yank it back if we need to. We need to realize that if every ounce of love and compassion comes without cost to us, then it’s not as meaningful as it could be. If it’s not costing us anything, we’re protecting ourselves at the expense of others.
So, for this Lent, the World Vision ACT:S team started to think:
- What does "sacrifice" mean?
- What does it look like in our everyday lives?
- What would change if our generation started putting others before ourselves?
- How much greater could our impact be if we began giving more of ourselves?
The Bible answers this pretty clearly. The Message version of Romans 12 says:
“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life -- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life -- and place it before God as an offering.”
True sacrifice is not a once-and-done deed. When you sacrifice, you give up a part of yourself that you will not get back. You let go of your grasp and offer it up for the bigger picture, for a purpose larger than yourself. There’s no going back. It’s transformational, and every part of you is affected.
As Scripture points out, sacrifice is not about lavish acts; it’s about offering up every little choice, every step, and every decision to God’s plan. It’s about asking in each moment, “How can I be a blessing? How can I do good today?” It is in those small choices that we slowly start to transform ourselves and the world around us.
This Lent, consider giving up more than candy or soda. Consider sacrificing in a way that might hurt a little. Consider beginning a journey that will reorient your life and the way you see the world.
This Lent, join us for Relentless ACT:S of Sacrifice -- a series of creative challenges to explore what it looks like to put others before ourselves in our day-to-day lives.
Each week, ACT:S will be posting a video and a challenge to inspire you to live sacrificially in your everyday lives. We hope you'll join us on this journey.
Samantha Bender is the Faith and Justice Fellow with ACT:S, World Vision's college activism network.