We often speak of self-sacrifice as an ideal for our Christian living.  We call upon ourselves and others who will listen to give up selfishness and live sacrificially.  But the moral quality of any sacrifice is determined by the cause for which it is made. 

 Some years ago, the world was shocked by a story of sacrifice in the city of Beirut.  A young man drove a truck loaded with explosives into a building, housing more than two hundred U.S. Marines.  Then he deliberately detonated the explosives, taking his own life and the lives of most of the men who slept there.  Then a few minutes later a similar strike was made on the French forces.  One marine, who saw the young man driving the truck, said the thing he would never forget was the smile on his face.  He was obviously sacrificing his life for a cause in which he believed.

Jesus never minced words when he talked with His followers about the necessity of sacrifice.  But we make a mistake when and if we imply that His cause is the only cause that involved that kind of commitment.

However we choose to live, whatever our goals and purposes may be, something always has to be sacrificed for something else.  Nothing we want in life is free.  Everything is on the trading block, so that if we choose one thing, we must give up another thing in order to possess it.

Let’s suppose some young person is saying, “What I want from life is freedom.”  If by freedom you mean the absence of all restraint, doing whatever you want to do, whenever and however you choose to do it, then you have that, at least for a while.  But it will not be free.  In order to have that kind of freedom, you will have to sacrifice your chance for an education, because getting an education involves the discipline of study, when you would rather be doing something else.

What we are saying is this: Self-sacrifice is not so much an ideal as it is a law.  Everybody lives sacrificially.  In this there is no choice.  The only option we have is what we will sacrifice for what.

And this is where the claims of Jesus come home to each of our hearts.  He challenges us to make a   positive use of the inevitable necessity to sacrifice.  And Jesus was saying, let it be for Me and for those things that I represent.

Losing one’s life for Jesus’ sake simply means giving oneself to the lifting of the world’s great burden and the healing of the world’s great hurt.  And many different people have found the truth of our Lord’s promise in many different fields of endeavor.  Mothers have done it in the home.  Teachers have done it in the classroom.  Workers have done it on the job.

Many different people in many different ways have discovered the truth of what Jesus said over and over again: “Whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”

Sacrificial living is not so much an ideal as it is an inescapable fact in search of an ideal.  We will sacrifice ourselves for something; that is inevitable.  Why not the best – the serving of others in the cause of Jesus?