Giving Up

One of the easiest things for us to do is give the absolute best of our time, efforts, and resources to ourselves. From the Fall until now, humans have been fine tuned to play music that bring us the most joy. Selfish pride is at the root of the outgrowth of sin in our lives.

As parents, we are familiar with selfishness. We see it in the faces of our children who don’t want to do as they’re told. It shows up in the little fights with friends over who gets to go first. Its’ ugly head rears when siblings argue over toys. Yet we often forget that selfishness is something that has been passed on for generations. Our children are selfish because we are selfish.

God knows our sins, and He loves us. But our Father is not content to allow us to continue in these destructive ways. God calls His children to a place of humility – putting others before ourselves. Jesus was the model for this way of life (Philippians 2), and we are to follow in our Elder Brother’s footsteps. We do this as His children, and we do it for our children.

In Exodus 13:11-13 we read,

After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your forefathers, you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD. Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.

There is something special about the first. Here, God focuses on the firstborn males, but it seems almost every first thing holds an inherently great value whether it’s the first experience, the first crops of the season or the first child in the family. You want to hold that first one close to you and never let it go. We want to keep her for ourselves, but God tells us to give her to Him.

The way a person gave their firstborn to God was through sacrifice. You would offer your lamb or livestock to the Lord through a burnt offering. In certain circumstances, you could redeem the firstborn by sacrificing a lamb instead. The firstborn among sons were to be redeemed with a sacrificial lamb, and it would be a clear reminder that the child belonged to God.

We give up things on a daily basis. Some things we give up for our own benefit. If a contraption will make our life “easier”, we’ll sacrifice money to have it at our disposal. There are also many things we give up in the name of our children. We sacrifice time training them in the faith for getting them into the best programs or travel with the elite athletic teams. We are well aware of the need to sacrifice, but we rarely sacrifice for the right purpose.

If we are going to succeed at raising God’s children to love and follow Him, we need to determine right now where our priorities lie. Doing the right thing requires sacrifice. We may have to give up some good things in order to pursue God’s things. We can’t only think about ourselves, and we can’t focus only on our children. Our gaze should always be fixed on the Father, and our sacrifice should be all we have and are to His glory.

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t just bark orders; He leads by example. The Father gave up His firstborn Son that He Himself might redeem us to be His children forever (Titus 2:14). God knows what it means to sacrifice, and He knows exactly what He is calling us to do as parents.

As we move forward in this parenting adventure, may our lives model the sacrifice that our Father made for us, and may our children see the heart of God in all our decisions. In this way, they will learn how they should be a living sacrifice and keep the focus on God and others. It will go against our sinful natures, but the Spirit is transforming us and empowering us to live more like Christ every day. We simply need to humble ourselves under His mighty hand that He might lift us up.

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