I’ll tell you a story … my story … a brief one.
So I was to be on call over this weekend and in my rush to get to work early enough, I forgot to pick up frozen foods from the freezer at home to restock my freezer at work and I didn’t realize until it was dinner time. All I had was a pack of beans, frozen solid. Home is too far away so, I laid out a survival strategy, I’d have beans on Friday night, noodles on Saturday night, then beans again on Sunday night. By Monday night, I’d be home in time for a lovely dinner with my wife and kids. It seemed doable. Easy peasy.
It’s Sunday night and I wasn’t looking forward to my dinner at all. I was going to be beans again … I mean beans agaaaaiiiiiinnnn …aaarrrrggghhh! Then it struck me … for how long did those guys have to eat the same meal every day? Just checked … three years! Yikes! I could barely stand it for three dinners and that’s with the intervening variant on Saturday night. These guys had vegetables and water as many times a day as they had to eat for three whole years. They weren’t required to do it. They weren’t forced to do it, others were eating the royal portions without any divine retribution, it’s not like they fell down and died or even sick. Everyone was fine but these guys took a decision and made a sacrifice and took a stand for their God, a stand to honour Him in the privacy of their hearts. Hmmmm.
I wonder when you last took a stand for God, to honour Him in the privacy of your heart in a way that no one else would probably be ever aware of. Many in our generation have found a way to avoid doing anything once it becomes a requirement, after all, nothing we can do or not do would make us more or less saved and loved by our Father God than we already are … which is true by the way. But as I contemplate my weekend against the background of these guys three years fasting, I see that they didn’t doing it to gain God’s approval, they didn’t stick to it because they saw any sign of God’s displeasure visited on those who took those liberties, they did it because they wanted to honour the God in whom they believed.
I’ve heard of holy anger, where we take a public stand against something humanly ungodly or devilishly evil and speak out against them and fight for our God or at least in His name, I’ve heard of holy laughter and holy oil and a few other holy things but I no longer hear of personal sacrifices being made in the name of holiness to a holy God. Sacrifices, not just in giving of sacrificial seeds or offerings but sacrifices that seem to put as at a disadvantage like we don’t know how to stand up for ourselves and fight for our rights when folks insult us, or sacrifices that demand we forgive even when the offender doesn’t seem sorry, or sacrifices that make us labour quietly in the secret and still be unappreciated or even trampled upon by those we serve … sacrifices made, not because we seek to be accepted by him but just because we wish to honour Him.
T. D. Jakes said one time that he wondered what folks in our generation would say when we get to heaven and meet people like Daniel and his friends who gave up good food and were thrown to lions and in the fire or Paul who was persecuted and killed more than once or the saints who bled and died as they pushed the gospel into heathen lands as missionaries or those who lost wives and children for the cause of Christ. He said he wondered because many of us have not been able to tolerate being talked about, gossiped and backbitten. I can’t help wondering what I would say I gave for the cause of Christ when I meet those guys up there.
I was in a service at one time in COZA Abuja when I visited some friends and the Pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo made a statement I can’t forget, “Once in a while, let someone take advantage of you”. I think we take advantage of God every day; can we let someone also “enjoy” such a priviledge with us just so we can serve God honourably? Can we take being mistreated just so someone can know what forgiveness feels like? Can we, from the heart, let go of what may be rightfully ours if getting it might bring dishonor to the name of Christ and the gospel of the kingdom of God? Can we fast our rights once in a while so that someone else can see that we are living for someone beyond time and space … someone that eyes cannot see but who does see everything including motives?
Many of the “sacrifices” we make today end up getting us plenty of credit with people. I challenge you today, make a move, take a stand, risk something just between you and God so you can bring honour to Him … alone. Go on a diet of self recognition and accolades, let God take all the glory once in a while, see how it feels.
Daniel 1: 5-12, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-10, I Corinthians 9