“If we are willing to give up only wrong things for Jesus, never let us talk about being in love with Him. Anyone will give up wrong things if he knows how, but are we prepared to give up the best we have for Jesus Christ? The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights. If we are to be the best for God, there must be victory in the realm of legitimate desire as well as in the realm of unlawful indulgence“ (Oswald Chambers).
As human beings – and especially as Americans – we have established ways of living that are perfectly legitimate and above reproach. But as Christians, how willing are we to give up those things, if it be for the furtherance of the Gospel?
Consider the words of Paul:
“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything“ (1 Corinthians 6:12).
“‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor“ (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings“ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Consider the example of our Savior Jesus Christ, who had all, and yet gave all, up to His very life, for the sake of bringing us redemption:
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:14-18).
Are we willing to give up our preconceived ideas of dress or worship styles or entertainment (even if we’ve always done it that way) in order to influence someone else in a positive way toward godliness?
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:4-7).
Are we willing to surrender not just the sinful or unwise things we enjoy, but the legitimate things too?
Are we willing to give up some of our lawful pleasures for the sake of bringing others closer to Christ?