Robbing God

Yesterday, John Piper posted an article about David Livingstone, the British explorer of Africa, who once said, “I never made a sacrifice.” He considered all of his trekking through the heart of Africa—where he could have easily died (and eventually did die)—as nothing more than “healthful activity, [which resulted in] the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter.” Dr. Livingstone was a truly evangelical Christian—a fact that many history books neglect to mention—who explored Africa for the sake of spreading the gospel and advancing the kingdom of God.

Dr. Livingstone didn’t consider his hardships in Africa a sacrifice. I ask you, if trekking through the heartland of Africa, braving the dangers of tropical rainforests, and traversing raging rivers in nothing more sophisticated than a steamboat are not sacrifices, then what are? Surely our plush lives in modern America are not sacrificial. Surely our few hurried minutes devoted half-heartedly to prayer and personal Bible study are not sacrifices. Surely our twelve-hour workdays and six-hour television/eating binges are not sacrifices. Surely our unwillingness to fast without promoting it to everyone we know are not sacrifices. Surely our whole lives amount to nothing more than selfish self-worship, a heap of vanity!

I speak generally. I exaggerate (only slightly, if at all). But the million dollar question is “What am I sacrificing for God? … Am I sacrificing anything for God?” With the mindset of Dr. Livingstone, nothing we do is a sacrifice, for we do “all things through Him who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13).

In my recent sermon on Philippians 3:1, I asked the question, “What is it to rejoice?” In Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…” In this verse, Paul counts the loss of all things as “rubbish,” as just a heap of trash! How can he do that? His joy is wrapped up solely in his Lord Jesus! Only when we can count the loss of all things—not literally, as in Paul’s case, but in attitude and in spirit and in practice—do we really rejoice in our Lord Jesus. Romans 14:23 says, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Therefore, every moment that we spend putting something else ahead of Jesus—whether in thought, word, or action—we spend in sin. Every moment that we spend in sin, we rob from God. By sinning, we rob God. By not counting the loss of all things as nothing more than trash, we rob God. By not diligently seeking Him in Bible study and prayer, we rob God. I understand that we all lead busy lives—I had posted only 2 posts in 18 days up until yesterday, and that is just the start of my failings!—but any amount of time we devote to God through Bible study, prayer, or other private/public worship (which includes Christian service and evangelism) is time well spent. Anything we give up to do those things is nothing more than trash, friends!

We all lead busy lives, but will we sacrifice some time to make an effort to grow spiritually, to walk with God? Will we push a meal back thirty minutes or an hour to spend in Bible study and prayer? Would we skip a meal altogether if need be? Will we wake up 10 minutes early to pray or read a portion of Scripture? Would we stay up 10 minutes later to do the same and end our day in communion with God? Would we give up a weekly TV program to pray or study God’s Word? Would we step out of our comfort zones and evangelize that person who we know isn’t saved? Would we do anything spiritual for God that would demand even the slightest sacrifice? Or would we value all this trash more than we value the Son of God Himself?

Maybe you already have daily communion with God. Maybe you’re satisfied with where you are in your walk with God. Maybe you already “count [the loss of all things] as rubbish,” as trash. But if not. If you don’t read your Bible daily (or even more often); if you aren’t satisfied with where you are in your Christian walk; if you don’t count everything as trash compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” then sacrifice some of your trash to Christ.

But even as we let go of this trash, all in our own ways, to more faithfully cling to Christ, let us remember that, like Dr. Livingstone, we’re not making sacrifices because we “can do all things through Him who strengthens” us.

Ultimately, we must put Christ first and remove all idols from our lives. The No Idols conference in Louisville, Kentucky, ends today. You can watch its final session (sermon) LIVE beginning at 1:30 PM CST today by clicking on http://ow.ly/1oGTr. (Please note that the actual streaming of the sermon will probably not begin until about 1:50.)

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