Sacrifice or something else?

Before I begin this post, I feel the need the qualify something. I do believe most of us know the true meaning of the word. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for noble reasons. And for that I am grateful.

image courtesy of


Sometimes I think how I view personal sacrifice is akin to my view of humility–the moment I begin to think of myself as sacrificial, I sort of miss the point.

  • My daughter pleads for the latest “must have” and hard to find toy or trinket. I drive all over town to find what she wants, then surprise her with it when she gets home. Later I find this most wanted item tossed carelessly on the floor of her room.
  • My son has a big school project due. He comes home to find that I’ve pulled the garbage cans in from the curb, brought his dirty clothes from his closet to the laundry room and emptied the dishwasher–all his chores–thereby giving him ample time to finish his assignment. Later I find him playing video games in his room. His school project, which is due the next day, lies unfinished on his bed.
  • I discover a great new blog. I put the writer on my blog roll and retweet all new posts on Twitter. I visit and comment on his or her blog at least two or three times per week, but the blogger never replies to my comments nor does he or she ever visit my blog and leave a comment.
  • After making a withdrawl from the bank, I see a man with a sign at a busy intersection–“Trying to get home. Need bus fare. Anything will help. God bless you.” I roll down my window and ask him how much he needs for bus fare. I give him the amount needed plus a few extra dollars. A week later I see the same man with the same sign in another part of town.

image courtesy of

Any of the above scenarios might be considered sacrificial on my part if I perform these acts expecting nothing in return. When I expect in return obedience, gratitude, respect, loyalty or love, the act ceases to be sacrificial and become some sort of unhealthy, passive-aggressive prid pro quo. Frankly, that’s just not the kind of person I want to be.

I’m examining my heart more and more these days, trying to be more like Jesus and less like my wretched self. And if I want to be more like him, I’ve got to love more like him. How about you?

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.” ~ Hosea 6:6

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Sacrifice, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more on the topic, please visit him at


Editor’s Note: For the record, I’m not in the habit of surprising my kids with toys or doing chores for them. I’m just not that nice of a mom. And if you’re on my blog roll, it’s not because I expect you to read my blog in return, it’s because I enjoy reading your blog and think others would, too. So there you go.

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32 Responses to “Sacrifice or something else?”

  1. Glynn February 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    I think you nailed it. We “sacrifice” – expecting something in return. When Christ died, he left us with — an invitation, ours to accept or reject (I think I just got into trouble with the Calvinists). But he didn’t make the sacrifice expecting something in return – because he already knew.

  2. Hope February 22, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    “When I expect in return obedience, gratitude, respect, loyalty or love, the act ceases to be sacrificial and become some sort of unhealthy, passive-aggressive prid pro quo. Frankly, that’s just not the kind of person I want to be.”

    Wow. This is horribly embarrassing to admit…but I think I don’t do anything completely selflessly very often. You definitely provided something to think about. Jesus did all things with love, right? He loved us and wanted to draw us to Him, to a way of living we were made for. That’s how He lived. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reflect on that.

  3. Jason February 22, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Many years ago I was sitting in Nashville talking to a singer named Eli. We were discussing this topic and he looked me dead in the eye and said “Jesus called us to give. He didn’t call us to guess what they might do with it after we give.” It resonated with me and I’ve tried to live that out. I’ll admit…I’ve failed quite a few times. But I strive to give as Jesus would give.

  4. Helen February 22, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Hi! Letting go of our sacrifice is probably the hardest part. I don’t mind giving money to strangers, but I mind being duped. Maybe that’s what He meant when He said we need to become like little children. We have to open our hand over and over, and never “learn our lesson” if that lesson is “don’t be duped”.

  5. Michael February 22, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    I’m with you Kathy. Acts of sacrifice expecting something in return aren’t really sacrifice. My one desire is to be more like Him.

  6. Candy February 22, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    So very true – I deserve and should expect nothing beyond the joy of giving straight from the heart. When I pondered the word ‘sacrifice’ the words would not come to even write a coherent post. Compared to so many others, I have sacrificed nothing. Feeling very convicted right now – a bloody cross, a wounded soldier, a starving child. Thanks (I think).

  7. Alise February 22, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    I’m this way with humility too.


    Yeah, maybe not so much.

    Selflessness is tough.

  8. Frank February 22, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    How much of parenthood is expecting something in return? Like you say, that’s not sacrifice, that’s passive-aggressiveness. And that’s not love. Sadly that’s the father I frequently am. And how much more so in other relationships. Unconditional. That’s a challenge!

  9. A Simple Country Girl February 22, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Before I read this, I had just re-read my notes from an Elizabeth Elliot audio teaching on the topic of discipleship. Sacrifice seems to hold hands with discipleship. In her talk she reminds us that “the way of the cross is very hard” and that “we need to alter our ways to be in perfect line with God’s will.”

    Even if our sacrifice is right and proper, she also reminds us that…
    – we need to wise as serpents
    – harmless as dogs
    – we will be betrayed
    – we will gain
    – brother will betray brother

    Basically, it isn’t always going to be pretty. For me, godly sacrifice includes the removal of not just my expectation of appreciation, but the removal of my judgment. That is a tough row to hoe.

    Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the movie “Facing the Giants.” It is said by the head football coach, Grant Taylor, as he speaks to a player about showing fathers their due respect: “You can’t judge your father by his actions and yourself by your intentions. It just doesn’t work that way.”

    My take on that quote is as follows: Sure, my intentions come into play (as with sacrifice), but not as a means by which to judge another, rather my intentions are used as a means with which to jump-start my actions.

    (But… don’t think we are to be doormats. And that, my friend, is a whole new topic.)


    *FTG quote (and others) found here:

    • katdish February 22, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      Dang. Love that quote. Love it.

  10. Doug Spurling February 22, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    “I’m examining my heart more and more these days, trying to be more like Jesus and less like my wretched self.” A couple things I’d like to say. One – I see Jesus in you. Two – I think a sacrifice is an offering to Someone for someone. It’s alright to expect that sacrifice to do something – to have a purpose. Like Jesus. He laid down His life. God the Father gave his Son. Sacrificed in hopes to receive lives to receive sons. The part that gets me is that a sacrifice has to be something hard to do – something in and of our selfish self we wouldn’t do…think of Jesus words – “not My will but Yours.” I suppose a true sacrifice is not in the thing itself we do but in the death to self. Be Blessed.

    • Doug Spurling February 22, 2011 at 9:49 am #

      Oops sorry, I forgot – “I’m examining my heart more and more these days, trying to be more like Jesus and less like my wretched self.” I love this. Me too.

  11. Ryan Tate February 22, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Great post Kathy, I see your heart in it. And I see your heart and courage in all your writing.

  12. Amy Nabors February 22, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    I catch myself expecting something in return also. Something God is definitely teaching me lately. Loving like Jesus. Yes that is something I am striving to do as well. It’s not always so easy when my selfish self gets in the way.

  13. Maureen February 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I was curious about the word’s derivation and learned that in Latin, it is “sacer”, which means “to make holy, to make sacred”. If a suffix is added (from Latin “facere” or “-ficare”), the word takes on the meaning to “act” or “take action”. Thus, you what you do is act and your action is something for the good, which means it’s not a “giving up” of something. In other words, you’re living out “good work” each time you do any of those things you describe above. You’ve embraced the meaning of sacrifice and made it part of who you are.

    I agree that the expectation of something in return would be something to “give up” but otherwise the meaning of your “sacrifices” is quite positive.

    • katdish February 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      Thanks, Maureen. I’m always quite fascinated with Latin and Greek root meanings of words. I think we often lose so much in translation.

  14. barbara February 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    Definitely a good reminder. Thanks, Kathy!

  15. Lynn Mosher February 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Are giving and sacrificing the same thing? Sometimes, I wonder. It’s not too difficult to give to or do something for someone. But how effortless is it to sacrifice something? As was said, we must let go. Sacrifice is love in action.

    Great post, Kat. I always love reading your thoughts. I agree…I love this: “I’m examining my heart more and more these days, trying to be more like Jesus and less like my wretched self.” Thanks for the reminder! Bless you!

  16. Hazel Moon February 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Loved this post ! Your illustrations to make your point are vivid. Giving can be a sacrifice, and wanting recognition by obedience, gratitude or what ever is definitely not unconditional openhanded giving. This is the way God gives to us with open hands and open heart. May we receive and respond to Him in like manner.

  17. Lisa notes... February 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Oh my. This cuts deep. Too often we “sacrifice” one thing in hopes of getting something even better, undermining the very sacrifice itself. I’ll keep this close with me today…

  18. seekingpastor February 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Agreed–true acts of sacrifice do not come with conditions. They are done freely and altruistically. But a thank you is good every now and then.

  19. Jeanne Damoff February 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I agree it’s hard to pour yourself out for someone and see nothing in return except ingratitude or, even worse, a trampling on your gifts. If it’s any consolation, you’re in great company. God’s.

    Love you. See you in Cooter County. xo

  20. Michelle DeRusha February 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Oh man, you really nailed this one good. Your post reminds me of something I read in Ann Voskamp’s book. She wrote about doing household chores, not in the expectation of praise or thanks from our loved ones (we all know that expectation will lead to disappointment!), but for Him — in everything we do, even the mundane, we do for Him. That totally changed my perspective on the daily grind. Too often I “sacrifice” in order to receive appreciation from my husband and kids. These days I’m trying to do my chores out of joy and thanks for God. (it’s taking some practice on my part!).

  21. Billy Coffey February 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Thanks for stepping on my toes with this, Kathy. And I mean that in a completely non-snarky way. Awesome.

  22. Tony Alicea February 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Interesting perspective. Definitely gives me a whole new outlook on that passage in Hosea through this lens.

  23. Sandra Heska King February 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    This first line caught my attention right away: “. . . the moment I begin to think of myself as sacrificial, I sort of miss the point.”

    Seems to me if we spend more time focusing on Him, being in Him, He will flow out of us–in small (from our perspective) and large ways.

    Maybe we sometimes need to quit thinking of ourselves so much. That would be a sacrifice.

    I’ve been stung big time in the past when I “sacrificed.” I’m not sure the outcome was my responsibility.

  24. Cris Ferreira February 22, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Great post, Katdish. The examples you listed helped everyone identify with each situation.
    The problem with us is that usually we don’t realize we expect something in return until we don’t get it. Sometimes I do think that I am making a sacrifice, but then when I don’t get the expected result, I get disappointed. That’s when I realize that I wasn’t doing it for “free”…
    Thanks for the reminder to be vigilant about it.

  25. Annie K February 23, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    I’m trying to think back to when I’ve really, really sacrificed and it’s hard to think of anything. Great thoughts Kat.

  26. Ed Blonski February 23, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I remember a conversation I had in with a church member once about the congregation helping the “less fortunate.”

    The concern was getting the hand that fed bit. My answer was that it didn’t matter how many times our hands get bit. Christ still wants us to put it out there to feed. Christ did that over and over again even though He knew that they were eventually going to put a nail through His hand.

  27. jasonS February 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Great post, Kat. Being more like Jesus is what it’s all about. Thank you.

  28. jake February 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Kathy, I think that Jesus-people do this at church all the time. We server our hearts out and expect to get something out of it, even if it is just acknowledgment. I’ve seen it and frankly, am guilty of it. If we (I) could jest over our wretched selves we’d probably see the successes in changed lives and successful programs. We’d understand then that it’s worth it whether or not we “get” something in return.

    I loved this. Just so you know 🙂

  29. Loni February 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Ohhh do I get this! So often it feels, especially as moms all we do is GIVE GIVE GIVE with nothing in return. It’s easy to start feeling all emotional over it – and yes, selfish. Thank you for sharing to today. It pricked my heart!

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