Links Daily Devotional

My Sacrifice

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17, NIV)

Professional athletes of all kinds make sacrifices. Particularly, they lay aside the cry of the flesh to eat more, sleep more, and work less, choosing instead a pattern of discipline for the sake of improvement.

I actually watch even my high school golfers make similar choices. They give up what we might call “free time”—going to the mall or playing a video game—to get to practice. And when there, they trade away extra hours of study or a possible interest in a different sport to give time to golf. They probably won’t be great musicians or learned scholars in the way others will be, because they’re collecting their 10,000 hours (or at least a portion of them) in pursuit of a better short game.

A gold ring looks glorious all by itself until you walk into Fort Knox and announce, “Look what I’ve got!”Does this warm my heart? Sure it does. It’s great to see young players go after something with dedication and an eye to the team. And I’m glad it’s in a game I love. But I don’t want to overlook that they are making sacrifices to do this. And fairly enough, they don’t want me to miss the effort they’re putting into it. They want me to honor their sacrifice, not taking them for granted.

Unfortunately, though, we can be prone to looking for the same honor from God. That is, we can lay our activities on the altar of religious sacrifice and say, “What do you think, God? Pretty good, eh?”

The tragedy of this approach is that it seizes back from Christ his work on the cross. When we look to our good works as the things that count with God, we not only approach him in pride, we approach him apart from the saving blood of Jesus.

This is why humility is so important. David’s broken spirit and contrite heart represent a man who understood that the avenue to God’s forgiveness and grace is not what we have done but what we are so grossly incapable of doing. A gold ring looks glorious all by itself until you walk into Fort Knox and announce, “Look what I’ve got!” To attempt to parade our righteousness before the Lord of all creation and perfect Savior of the lost is like defining the whole golf course by the one blade of grass you plucked from the eighth fairway.

But here’s the truth: Hold up that lonely blade of grass and say to the God of the universe, “What can you make of this?” and now he’s listening. Confess to him, “Lord, I have nothing of value, really. I come in weakness, without merit, without a purpose, without strength. I beg of you to receive me all the same.” Now you are speaking his language! Now you have opened his heart toward you! Now you will see him work in your life!

Jeff Hopper
March 30, 2016
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