|Love Means Sacrifice|
Elisabeth Elliot: Why do people's marriages break up? You know what the basic reason is? Because they do not remember that love means sacrifice.
Lisa Barry: I?ll never forget one of the first years of being married. My husband and I had a disagreement over something, I can?t even remember what it was. And I was just learning about submission at the time. It wasn?t a lesson that came easily for me because I was adept at manipulation. But this time it was different. I remember going down into our basement and sitting on a chair with my arms folded tight. After a while my husband came down and asked what I was doing, to which I responded, "I?m dying to self." If you can relate to my experience, then you?ll be glad to know that today on Gateway To Joy Elisabeth Elliot continues talking about how to simplify your life through sacrifice. That?s next on Gateway To Joy.
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That?s what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, continuing my talks today on how to simplify your life. Today's talk is love means sacrifice.
Is that news to you, that love means sacrifice? It can't be news if you're a father or a mother. Once that baby comes your life changes, doesn't it? But perhaps you don't even have to think about it as sacrifice because you adore that little package that God has given you, that sweet baby girl or baby boy. But over the years you begin to realize that that baby child--boy or girl--has the power to rake your soul with pain. Love always means sacrifice.
For you who are anticipating the possibility of marriage, don't forget there will be many ways in which you are going to have to give up your right to yourself.
1 Corinthians 13 is the definitive passage on this principle: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind; it does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud; it is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered;" and get this one now, "it keeps no record of wrongs."
I confess that I am tempted to keep records of wrongs, so that rather than just rushing off to somebody and accusing them of having hurt me in some way, I store them up and I think, "One of these days that person is going to do something so bad, that I will be able to read this record of wrongs that I've been keeping in my head." It's wicked. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
"Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth; it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
Why do people's marriages break up? You know what the basic reason is? Because they do not remember that love means sacrifice. Now you loved that person that you married, at least you thought you did back then, but you hadn't had a whole lot of opportunity to understand that love means sacrifice. Somehow or other, usually within twenty-four hours after you say "I do," you're going to find out that what you're married to is a sinner. What do you think that person is married to? You, a sinner too. So if a sinful man and a sinful woman are going to try to make it happily for 365 days a year, what are they going to have to do? Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. You give up your right to yourself.
It's exactly the same thing as Jesus put right at the beginning when He said, if you want to be My disciple. He said, if you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself. Are you ready for that? Were you ready for that when you got married?
My husband and I were invited to go to a very beautiful, gorgeous wedding. And when we were also invited to go to the reception, they asked specifically that each of us would give a, what they called, a toast--and by that they meant a challenge to the bride and groom. When it was my turn, I said to the groom, "You married Nina because you loved her. But this day forward you must love Nina because you married her." Do you understand that? Love means sacrifice.
In 1 Corinthians 13 we read, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." Love never fails.
1 John 3:16 is a corollary to John 3:16. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." In 1 John 3:16 we find the corollary, "This is how we know what love is. That Christ laid down His life for us, and we in our turn must lay down our lives for each other."
Just today in the mail, I received a beautiful card from a group of Hungarians who take care of handicapped people. They enclosed a photograph of all those handicapped inmates, and they themselves were with them. It reminded me of the visit that I made to that lovely place in Hungary and saw the gentleness, the kindness, the sacrifice that was so evident in that home for those dear people. They called them children; some of them were 40, 50, 60-years old, but all of them were in one way handicapped. There they sat day after day, some of them picking up--with a pin--tiny little flakes of egg shells and gluing them in such a way as to make a framed picture. I have a framed picture on my wall, made by those dear handicapped people. I think of how love means sacrifice.
It can't possibly be easy to take care of those people day in and day out. Only God knows how difficult it is for the people themselves to have to be taken care of. Some of them can't speak. We can't ask them questions; we don't know what's going on in their heads. We don't know whether that seemingly blank look has anything behind it. Yet, they are creatures of God. Love means sacrifice.
Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will do what I command." He didn't say if you love Me, sing about it, talk about it, write poetry about it, think about it, pray about it. He said if you love Me, obey, do what I say. The only valid test of our love for God is obedience.
Husband and wife, what is the problem between the two of you? If there's a problem, it's because you are not prepared to pay attention to the good of the other. Forget about yourself, be concerned for the good of the other person. You know what? I don't believe that such a marriage would ever fall apart. Concern for the good of the other person goes along very well with the three conditions of discipleship. Jesus said, if you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself. That's point one. Lay down your life, surrender, give it all up to Jesus.
Point two--take up the cross. Can you imagine that the cross will mean something less than suffering? There will be crosses in every marriage. There will be suffering, there will opportunities to give up your right to yourself.
The third condition of discipleship is follow. Are you following Jesus Christ, or are you following your own sweet way? Are you prepared to think only and exclusively for the good of the other person, without ever saying, "But what about me? What about my feelings?" That's God's business. You leave you and your feelings up to God. Put yourself on the altar, surrender yourself to Him, and start majoring in the good of the other. You know, there may be a dramatic change in your marriage.
There was a son who came from a wealthy home. He was pricked to the heart by the Holy Spirit; he was thoroughly changed. He shone like a flame. A man stole his kamalai. A kamalai is an Indian device used in India for the drawing of water. The Christian man said nothing when the man stole that device. The man, perceiving the gentleness of this Christian, demanded the loan of his bulls and his plow. The Christian said to him, "Take not only my bulls and my plow, but take fodder also." That melted the heart of the Indian. He fell at his feet and asked forgiveness, and he was led to Jesus Christ.
That's a true story, a story of love which means sacrifice.
Lisa Barry: What a great illustration of sacrificial love. I hope we all have moments like that in our own lives. In fact, if you have a story you?d like to tell about how Gateway To Joy has influenced your life, then I?d encourage you to send it in. It?s so encouraging for us to know how this program is impacting your decisions and your relationships. You can write to us at this address:
Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. And if you can, I?d like you to remember Gateway To Joy in your prayers and financial giving. We depend on you to keep this message going out loud and clear. If we hear from you, it acts as a vote of confidence for Gateway To Joy in your area. We want to be faithful to our call, and God has made us dependent upon you. Can we count on your support today? That address again is Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll free 1-800-759-4JOY. That?s 1-800-759-4569. Or you can dial up our Web site at gatewaytojoy.org. You can order books, find daily devotionals and a lot more.
Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible. Tomorrow Elisabeth challenges us to examine the struggle we find ourselves in. Find out more next time on Gateway To Joy.