What image springs to your mind when you hear the word sacrifice? Do you visualize a primitive pagan sacrifice of a bloody animal offered on a rock altar? Perhaps you think of a soldier or first responder's sacrificial bravery?
Not all sacrifices require blood to be spilled or the exchange of one life for another. Before the Lord Jesus offered Himself on the cross for humanity's salvation, He sacrificed His place and position in heaven with His natural birth on earth. Jesus humbled Himself (Phil 2:5-8)
Every Christian believer is called to offer himself or herself as a bloodless sacrifice by personally following the Lord (Matt 16:24; Rom 12:1).
Jesus' example of servant leadership—training disciples, healing people, washing feet—is our highest human example of humility and service. A life of genuine childlike faith is a bloodless sacrifice that can be offered in many ways.
We don’t have a permanent city here on earth, but we are looking for the city that we will have in the future. Through Jesus we should always bring God a sacrifice of praise, that is, words that acknowledge him.
Don’t forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God. [vss 14-16]
Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you. Obey them so that they may do this work joyfully and not complain about you. (Causing them to complain would not be to your advantage.)
Pray for us. We are sure that our consciences are clear because we want to live honorably in every way. I especially ask for your prayers so that I may come back to you soon. [vss 17-19]
(Hebrews 13:14-19 GW) [Context– Hebrews 13]
Through Jesus we should always bring God a sacrifice of praise
Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
What do we not have on earth? How is this connected to offering "a sacrifice of praise" or doing something that benefits others?
What exhortation is given about leaders? How is this relevant for us regarding submission to leadership today?
What sacrifices please God? What are the pleasing sacrifices included in this text?
How does the request for prayer and following statement relate to sacrifices that please God?
True faith changes our perspective on life. It enables us to see beyond the immediacy of our circumstances to follow Jesus our Lord. Personal attacks and slights don't need to be taken to heart because we follow Jesus who endured great injustice at the hands of those He loved.
Worship extends beyond our mouths and self to benefit others just as Jesus laid His life down for us. This requires real faith—genuine trust in the Lord—a relational trust beyond the theological beliefs we hold.
The key to submitting to spiritual leaders is the need for spiritual discernment. It's easy to find fault with a leader's humanity. It's also easy to surrender responsibility to a leader's authority to make them responsible for your life. Both of these attitudes and actions are wrong.
We are to surrender our will only to God. Each of us is accountable to the Lord. We submit to authority as an act of faith—trust—in God. Living in genuine faith as a living sacrifice honors the Lord and enables us to be a blessing to others.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
Does your faith in God enable you to see how temporary our life on earth is as believers?
Have you experienced the blessing of offering a "sacrifice of praise" to God, especially when circumstances are difficult?
How do you think being a blessing to others becomes a sacrifice that pleases God?
In what ways have you offered a bloodless sacrifice to God in your life?
Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews