Have you ever struggled to let go of something? It could be something you value very highly and can’t imagine living without, like a precious relationship, a status, a possession, or a job role. Perhaps you have known for some time that God is asking you to relinquish it, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.
Alternatively, perhaps there is a strong emotion that you can’t release. You try to forgive that person, but despite saying the words, “I forgive”, somehow nothing seems to change on the inside for you. Those angry, bitter, resentful thoughts or feelings just keep coming. Sometimes, we just struggle to let things go, don’t we?
Recently I was reminded of a time when I found myself in this situation. In my case it was a romantic relationship that I valued very highly. I knew the Lord was saying it wasn’t right, but my emotions were so tangled up in the relationship that I just couldn't work out how to let it go.
In the end, what worked for me was to recognise how highly I valued this relationship, and to recognise that if God wanted me to give it to Him, then I would be giving Him something hugely valuable to myself. In other words, it would be a sacrifice. And it seems to me that in the Scripture, sacrificing something valuable to you is more significant than sacrificing something of lesser value to you (2 Samuel 24:24, and Deuteronomy 15:21).
Sometimes we think that sacrifices ended with the Old Testament, and in one sense they did of course. They are no longer the way in which sin is dealt with, because Jesus made one perfect and incredibly amazing sacrifice of Himself, on our behalf. No further sacrifices are needed to atone for sin.
But love gifts to God are also sacrifices, and these are very pleasing to God, like a beautiful aroma. In the New Testament, Paul thanks the Philippians and says their gifts ‘are like a sweet smelling offering to God, a sacrifice which is acceptable and pleasing to him’ (Philippians 4:18).
When Jesus saw a widow put two small copper coins into the treasury as an offering to God, He commented that she had given more than all the rich people, because what she gave was very valuable to her (everything she had to live on, in fact). And in today’s verse, Paul takes up a similar theme of giving God our most valued possession (our own selves) as a sacrifice.
So here is an idea. Could you take yourself off somewhere private today for ten minutes, and look again at that thing or strong feeling that you are struggling to let go of? Could you offer it to God as a sacrifice? Burn it up completely on the altar of your heart and release it to Him. The very fact that it is so hard for you to see it go, shows how important it is to you. That also makes it a very precious sacrifice, which God himself will value incredibly highly. It will be a sweet smelling offering, which honours Him more highly than anything else you could do today.
Going back to my story, I offered the relationship to God as my sacrifice to Him, along with many tears. It was very difficult, but thinking of it as a sacrifice helped, because I knew how much God valued what I was doing. There was a happy ending, because the husband He unexpectedly gave me some months later was, of course far, far better! Remember that if God is asking you to give up something that is precious or difficult to let go of, it is only because He has something so much better to give you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please bring to my mind anything that You are asking me to let go of. Help me not to hold on to bitterness and anger. Help me to give You any relationship that I know is not of You. Help me to hear clearly from You. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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