Sacrifices of Opportunities

"When you offer your gifts-the sacrifice of your sons in the fire-you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, O house of Israel?" (Ezek 20:31 NIV)

Lomeen, daughter of Kul had been brought up worshipping Ur-Ball. In those days, no one ever asked themselves why human sacrifices were necessary. After all, it was common knowledge that Ur-Ball was not pleased with the human race. The only way to appease that ferocious "god" was to sacrifice something precious. And what could be more precious than your own child? Such requirements seemed to be on the rise of late, and Lomeen, whose only bright spot in life was her 10 year-old boy, Benei, was beginning to worry. What if Ur-Ball demanded a human sacrifice of her?

Then one day the elders of her village approached her. They were talking about an upcoming sacrifice, and they hinted that she would make a difference to their god!

The sense of vivid horror that immediately rose in her heart followed her relentlessly. She knew they were not talking about making a human sacrifice of her. She was way too old to appease Ur-Ball. They could only be talking about the sacrifice of Benei! She couldn't sleep. She couldn't eat. She couldn't even concentrate on her daily tasks.

What could she do?

She could challenge the elders, but she had seen other mothers try this, and she knew that these courageous women usually found themselves being sacrificed along with their child.

Should she take her son and run away?

No. She could hide from the villagers, but she would never be able to hide from Ur-Ball. He would either strike them down without mercy, or would cause them to die a slow death of starvation!

What could she do to save her son?

Often when we read those stories of human sacrifices mentioned in the Old Testament, we find them hard to believe. How could anyone be so cruel as to sacrifice his own child? These people must have been really sick in the head to even consider such an act of brutality!

However, are we really any better? Ask yourself these questions:

- Are we sacrificing our unborn children to the gods of freedom from responsibilities?

- Are we sacrificing our health in favor of greasy hamburgers and junk food?

- Are we sacrificing our marriages to the idea of greener pastures and opportunities?

- Are we sacrificing our family time to the gods of entertainment and personal advancement and pleasures?

- Are we sacrificing our gifts to the needy in favor of sustaining our luxurious worship centers? What about to sustain our luxurious lifestyles?

- Are we sacrificing our testimony in order to avoid possible confrontation?

- Are we sacrificing our ability to show love to the world to protect ourselves from hurt and ridicule?

- Are we sacrificing our "true" selves so that we can hang on to personal addictions and "pet" sins?

Jesus showed us the way to real sacrifice, the only one that can really makes a difference in the lives of others: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Heb 13:15-16 NIV); "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Eph 5:1-2 NIV); and "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." (Matt 9:13 NIV)

The kind of sacrifice we will offer depends on the choices we make: Sacrifices of opportunity or sacrifices of pure love?

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13 NIV)

Rob Chaffart

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