Dictionary.com defines beneficial as the following:
1. salutary, wholesome, serviceable, useful, favorable, profitable.
Learning the official definition of beneficial shows me that these words can be used to our advantage anytime we choose. Ice cream can be beneficial – a new purse can be serviceable – an afternoon of pampering can meet my needs. All of these can be advantageous or useful depending on what kind of spin we put on it or how we justify these ideas in our mind. However, as I continue to read Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made To Crave, I realize that not everything is beneficial if it pulls us away from our focus on God. Lysa references 1 Corinthians 10:23 to sum this up efficiently, “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial”. Here is the full context of this verse:
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
When I hear the words above, my mind immediately does a 360 and instead of landing back in the happy land of beneficial, I am now churning out thoughts of “what do I have to give up in order to achieve my goals?”
Here enters SACRIFICE! Sacrifice immediately conjures up pictures of hard work – really hard work.
In order to complete this hard work, I am giving up time, sacrificing another activity in order to complete this one, and finishing a workout hoping that I can even move the next day. But is this sacrifice or am I distorting my view of hard work? Does sacrifice always require the act of giving something up to achieve another goal? We spend so much time making sure our lives are fair – equality in how we spend our time, fairness in who gets our attention, equal parts of our day devoted to the activities that we want to finish-I’m sure you can see the pattern developing. BUT do we stop to think that if we really want to reach a goal and it is beneficial – the hard work does not feel like sacrifice at all!
I would like to challenge everyone to understand that reaching a goal goes hand in hand with sacrifice. This word can be defined as surrender or giving something up but when I look at the definition of surrender I find that it means to yield or resign in favor of another. We are working toward achieving goals that are beneficial to us so yielding our time, our food choices, our activities in favor of ones that are beneficial is not sacrifice. It is making a choice to reach a goal that we know will benefit us when we complete it. God knows what is beneficial for us, allows us to make mistakes along the way and still stands by us even when we let our messiness take over. Instead of thinking “sacrifice” or “hard work” take to heart Lysa TerKeurst’s words from Made to Crave:
“instead of wallowing in what I can’t have, I’m making the choice to celebrate what I can have.”
And when that next step or goal seems impossible to reach, allow God to step in and remember:
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
As I reflect on what is beneficial and understand that some sacrifice or surrender is needed to reach my goals, I know that my sacrifices are but a blip on the radar compared to Jesus’ ultimate surrender for us on the cross.
This picture greets me each morning as I prepare my coffee and reflect on what the day will bring. The three power line poles silhouetted against the morning dawn symbolize the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us. The picture grips me with its symbol of three crosses and I humbly concede that I know nothing about sacrifice but Jesus knows everything. Turn to God for all and trust that He will never forsake you and leave you alone in your journey. Trust God to teach you what is beneficial and allow Him to fill the emptiness that occurs when you work toward new goals that require hard work.
What does sacrifice look like to you? Does it walk along side things that are beneficial or does it just conjure up moments of hard work that seem overwhelming?
Blessings today for your goals to be sought by pursuing Jesus and the peace that only He can provide!
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