Tuesday, June 6, 2017

There will seem to be sacrifice

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Tuesday Morning Session from the April 1976 Conference.
Sometimes I wonder about the whole concept of "sacrifice." If I recall what I learned in Seminary correctly, it means giving up something you want, for something you want MORE. So, if you do something you don't really want to do—if you sacrifice—for God, then it shows your love for him. 

But then, when our overarching goal IS to please God, we come to WANT to do things for him. So then sometimes people say things like, "It isn't even a sacrifice. It's a pleasure to give my time to the Lord." Or, "It's not really a sacrifice to pay tithing, because the blessings I get back are so great." And that seems, in some ways, even better than saying "this was hard to give up but I did it anyway."

So, obviously it is a good thing to sacrifice for God (even imperfectly), but as we progress, I wonder: should the whole idea of sacrifice eventually give way to "it's not a sacrifice, because I want to do this and I'm happy to do it for God"? But if we don't FEEL a pang of difficulty, giving something up for God, then how will we even know we are giving up enough, or giving up something valuable enough, to demonstrate our true commitment? Is the best thing always to "give till it hurts"? I don't know. Maybe there isn't ever a person that truly feels NO pang of sacrifice. Maybe things like losing loved ones to death are always a sacrifice even when we are fully trying to submit our wills to God's.

Hmm. Well, it doesn't exactly answer that question, but my favorite quote this week came from Elder Joseph Anderson's talk called "The Matter of Personal Testimony." He quotes President David O. McKay who said:
"A testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most sacred, the most precious gift in our lives, obtained only by adherence to the principles of the gospel, not by following the paths of the world.
…Sometimes there are obstacles; there is persecution; there is self-denial; there will be tears because you are coming constantly in contact with these enticements, with these worldly ideals, and you have to overcome them; and, for the moment, there will seem to be sacrifice, but it is only temporary. The Lord never forsakes those who seek him. It may not come just the way you think, but it will come. The Lord will certainly fulfill his promise to you.”
I guess it resolves the question without really addressing it. President McKay basically says, "some things SEEM like sacrifices. But the eventual rewards will demonstrate how worth it they are." So maybe it is more TRUE, in an eternal sense, to say "Nothing is truly a sacrifice, because you're always getting the best end of the deal—gifts from the Savior worth more than your 'sacrifice' could ever add up to." And when we can manage to see things that way—good. I assume that perspective, because of its gratitude and optimism, brings blessings.

But at the same time, since we are all imperfect, we must all deny ourselves some things we think we want, and those—to us—seem to be sacrifices. So we all understand the concept of sacrifice too. And if we are in that state of feeling like we don't want to give something up, but we are willing to give it up, then that brings blessings too. "The Lord never forsakes those who seek Him"—whether we are seeking Him because that's a thing we want MORE than all the other things we also want—or because that has come to be the ONLY thing we want—either way, "the Lord will certainly fulfill his promises" to us.

Other posts in this series:

1 comment:

  1. You raise interesting thoughts. There is also the truth that obedience is better than sacrifice. Giving up our personal desires for the Lord is a sacrifice but when we offer our desires willingly--still at a sacrifice--we are blessed for our obedience because we weren't compelled. :)

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