Should We Regret Sacrifices For God?
Sacrifice is part of life. If you want to earn a living, you need to work. Other sacrifices are motivated by love. Most parents will forgo their own comfort or preferences for the sake of their children. There's something else that's worth sacrificing for. In this case, our sacrifices for it are motivated both by love and by anticipation of a reward. It's worth sacrificing for more than all other individual things, because it ultimately results in the betterment of everyone and everything. That would be God's Kingdom.
The apostle Paul listed some of the things he had before becoming a Christian, in Philippians 3:4-6: "though I, if anyone, do have grounds for confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born from Hebrews; regarding law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the congregation; regarding righteousness based on law, one who proved himself blameless." Here he mentions things like a long line of family connections and strict application of the smallest rules and regulations.
Now at first glance it might appear that Paul is bragging, but that couldn't be further from the truth. He's making a point. He's saying that all these things that seemed so important in his religion and culture, that elevated his social status, meant little to God and did little in the long run. If we continue reading starting in verse 7, we see how Paul really felt about what he sacrificed: "Yet, the things that were gains to me, I have considered loss on account of the Christ. What is more, I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ". The word here translated "refuse" can also be rendered as "dung" or "excrement". The last time you went to the bathroom, before flushing the toilet, did you look longingly into the bowl? Did you take off your hat and play taps on the bugle? When you put your trash out on the curb, and they take it, do you try to chase the truck down? Of course not. Well, that's how Paul felt about his old priorities.
Was he justified in making such a strong comparison? Well, let's look at what he was actually trading. In verse 4 he mentions "confidence in the flesh", in verse 6 he mentions "righteousness based on law". So basically, his foundation was himself, as well as the teachings of other men. And, as Jesus had ilustrated in his story of the two men building houses, the foundation of our faith affects everything. It will make us or break us. But now that he was a Christian, what did Paul now have? Let's read on in verse 9, speaking of Christ he says, "and be found in union with him, not because of my own righteousness from following the Law, but because of the righteousness that is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith." Now that's much better, don't you think?
Think too of Moses. He was raised in the wealthiest most powerful civilization at the time. He went from that life, to being a lowly shepherd. Paul said this about him in Hebrews 11:26, "he considered the reproach of the Christ to be riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward." It's interesting that both Moses and Paul were already worshipers of Jehovah from youth. Still, they had much to learn and change. In their own ways, they were sincere, yet misdirected. By sacrificing what the world gave them, they got so much more in return.
Now, not all of us have given up career or prestige for the Kingdom. It could be everyday sacrifices, such as preaching or being hospitable and sharing what we have with others. No matter what it is, do we have any legitimate cause to worry about what we give up? No. In Hebrews 6:10 Paul says, "For God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name". So these things that might be called sacrifices . . . Are they really sacrifices? Aren't they more like an investment? Not a risky one, but one that's guaranteed.