Joy in Sacrifice
This is a sermon preview for Sunday May 14. It is the 5th week of the Eastertide sermon series “Easter Joy: A Walk Through Philippians.”
“My brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!...What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”
Two musicians from Rend Collective started a podcast a couple years ago titled Where’s the Joy in That? These Irish friends talk openly about their faith and their struggles in “a relentlessly positive podcast about finding the joy in life—especially in the places we least expect it!” Since listening, I now often find myself praying to God: “Where’s the joy in that?” Especially when faced with something I absolutely and undeniably don’t want to do.
If Paul was a guest on the show, I imagine that he’d remind listeners that we can always rejoice–just not in what our culture tends to celebrate. There’s no rejoicing in our privileges of birth. Not our personal ambitions or accomplishments. Not even our positions of work or power.
Instead, Paul tells us in Philippians 3 that we rejoice in one thing: the loss of everything.
What a weird thing for Paul to rejoice in! So where’s the joy in sacrifice?
There’s joy in sacrifice because the worth of knowing Jesus Christ far surpasses anything we have to lose!
We rejoice because we can forget about all these arbitrary things that weigh down the world. We rejoice because we are free from the burdens of wealth, fashion, fame, and convenience. We rejoice because we are one with the God of all love, righteousness, and sacrifice. We rejoice because God’s free gift of grace is more than enough to cover the gaps and provide abundantly more than what we need–both in this life and eternity to come.
Mother’s Day is not observed in the Liturgical Calendar. But as it happens, while our country celebrates the special roles mothers play in our lives this Sunday (May 14), it seems fitting that we remember Paul’s words to have joy in sacrifice. Whether it’s your biological mother or a grandmother who took you in, an adopted mom or step-mom, a chosen mom or a spiritual mom–we have all witnessed women who joyfully sacrifice for the sake of knowing Christ and giving testimony to God’s active work in the world.
Whether you are a mother, you desire to one day be a mother, or you just hope to be the kind of person who reflects this joyful sacrifice like your own mother-figure, Paul’s words to the Philippians are for you. As Christians, our joy will never be found in the status symbols or power of this world. Our joy is only found in sacrifice–in laying these things down so that we may know God more deeply and live faithfully for the care of others in our community.
Have you ever witnessed a mother-figure in your life–whether traditional or non-traditional–give sacrificially and joyfully? How do you think that experience gives witness to their faith in Christ?
What do you most often find yourself rejoicing in? Take special note if it’s something related to your personal status, power, authority, or well-being.
How is the Holy Spirit leading you to re-prioritize your life so that you consider the “gains of this world a loss for the sake of Christ?” (Phil. 3:7)