LifeLink Devotions (Click Link for audio version)
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Today we come to the last in our series on the characteristics of a mature Christian. All of them have been significant, but the last two, taken along with today’s subject, are the true tests of one’s intimacy with Jesus Christ. We discovered over the last two days that God’s love is being perfected in us through all of the pressures and fires of life so that our lives reflect the brilliance and purity of His love through the forgiveness that we offer to others, just as we experience the fullness of God’s love through His forgiveness of our sin. But for that love to even be offered there had to be a sacrifice. Every act of true love is an act of sacrifice and giving.
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
John 10:17-18a “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”
Paul says, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” John says, “God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice.” Jesus says, “I lay down my life.“
I believe with my whole heart that the degree to which a person sacrifices self for the sake of serving others, including enemies, is the single most significant measurement of spiritual maturity in the heart of God. God does not measure our value by our doctrinal position or by our ability to defend it. He does not measure our intimacy by the social and moral issues we stand for or against in society. He does not measure our effectiveness as His servants by the quantity or even quality of the work we do for Him in the church or other ministries. He measures our maturity by this one thing- sacrifice: do we consistently and willingly lay down our lives for the sake of others?
Two of my favorite yet most challenging Bible verses are found in Romans 12:1-2, and they say, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Do you see the three characteristics of maturity we have been mentioning the last three days? There’s forgiveness. It’s right there in God’s mercy. There’s love in our spiritual act of worship. And there’s sacrifice in the offering of our bodies to live holy and pleasing lives to honor the One who forgave us.
My friends, I repeat what I said two days ago: the world will beat a path to our door and then beat down our door to come in and experience the wonder of God when we begin to fully live these three characteristics of spiritual maturity: love will generate sacrifice resulting in forgiveness. Be prepared for people to come near to you and ask you about the incredible hope that is in you. Be prepared to tell them what you have been showing them – that God so loved the world that He sacrificed His own Son Jesus so that we could be forgiven.