“Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. Don’t neglect to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices” (Hebrews 13:15-16).
LEBANON, Tenn. (BP)–My very round, less-than-five-feet-tall, Appalachian grandmother owned one navy blue dress. She had several thin cotton housedresses, too, but when she had some place special to go — like one of her sons’ football games or a band concert for the high school — she wore her navy blue dress.
I’m sure she would have liked to have had more than one dress to wear, but my mother never heard her complain about it if she did. Nanny knew how to sacrifice. And it wasn’t just a fashion statement for her. She went whole hog about it. Although she and Papaw never owned a house of their own, she always opened their rented, two-story house on the brick alley to others who were in need.
More than one family member spent their final days in her care. Struggling nieces and nephews were always welcomed, and even college students lived in the upstairs bedroom during the school year, lining up in the hallway with the rest of the family to use the one and only bathroom.
Five children of her own, working as a cook in several restaurants, and a volunteer with the Salvation Army, Nanny never stopped giving. Even her reputation was fair game as she demonstrated by witnessing in a local bar and losing her church membership when the congregation chastised her for entering such a place.
She just kept giving until she gave it all away. Although she died when I was only 5, I remember her gifts to me. Drawing a large circle on the dining room floor with a crayon so that we could play marbles. Rolling out dough and cutting the most delicious noodles with a big butcher knife. Buying me a black, King James Bible with a gold zipper around the pages. And handing down a heritage of fearless and selfless living through the stories I’ve heard from my mother, aunt and uncles. Nanny pleased God.
Nanny was a great example. But am I? Sacrifice is not as popular today as it once was. It is more common to sacrifice others’ needs than it is to give up our own. Men and women sacrifice their marriages to fulfill selfish desires. Parents sacrifice children to gods of career and success. And many of us sacrifice common sense by buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have. We even deny God’s truths as He proclaims them in His Word in order to show the world that we aren’t small-minded or intolerant of alternate lifestyles or differing religions. If we don’t actually deny them then we might choose simply to keep silent — to leave the fruit of our lips to rot on the tree unplucked. Yes, we sacrifice a lot today, but not in a way that pleases God. (And I have sacrificed my grammar by mixing my pronouns. “We” is a lot easier and less convicting to say than “I.”)
But I long to please God. To offer sacrifices of both word and deed. To confess His name continually and to do good and to share. Maybe it was easier for Nanny. Maybe she didn’t hang onto things so tightly, because she never had much to begin with. But couldn’t that make it even harder to give it away? She had so little, but she offered it all. Like the widow who gave her last “mite,” Nanny gave with all her might. Oh Lord, help me to do the same. Let me speak Your name with praise and thanksgiving. Help me to give with joy and sacrifice so that I will please You and bless those around me. More than lifted hands and songs sung in a sanctuary, let my daily life be a sacrifice of praise — all for You and Your glory. So shall it be? I pray so.
Lisa is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, Chuck, their three kids, two dogs, and two cats on a farm in Middle Tennessee. She is a member of First Baptist Church in Lebanon, Tenn.