Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lesson recap: Sacrifice

Sacrifice, by Dallin H. Oaks in the April 2012 Conference, was the topic of our lesson today, given by Trudy Cook.

Trudy had us think of a sacrifice in our lives, what happened because of it and what would have happened if we hadn't done it.

This evaluation helps us determine the motivation for and definition of sacrifice. Is what we do in favor of a bigger picture, a greater good? Or perhaps motivated by some other selfish desire or maybe not necessary at all?

Dallin Oaks:
Jesus Christ endured incomprehensible suffering to make Himself a sacrifice for the sins of all. That sacrifice offered the ultimate good—the pure Lamb without blemish—for the ultimate measure of evil—the sins of the entire world. In the memorable words of Eliza R. Snow:

His precious blood he freely spilt;
His life he freely gave,
A sinless sacrifice for guilt,
A dying world to save.
That sacrifice—the Atonement of Jesus Christ—is at the center of the plan of salvation.

Our Savior requires us to continue to offer sacrifices, but the sacrifices He now commands are that we “offer for a sacrifice unto [Him] a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20). He also commands each of us to love and serve one another—in effect, to offer a small imitation of His own sacrifice by making sacrifices of our own time and selfish priorities.
When we sacrifice with the Spirit to guide us, knowing that God will help us, we can "bring forth the blessings of heaven"3. We can also let go of a lot of guilt.

Trudy asked us to examine our lives and our sacrifices, and see if the loss we feel when we "sacrifice" is just an expression of disappointment at not getting our selfish desires.

We went on to discuss the types of sacrifices we make in the church.

Dallin Oaks:
For most followers of Christ, our sacrifices involve what we can do on a day-to-day basis in our ordinary personal lives. In that experience I know of no group whose members make more sacrifices than Latter-day Saints. Their sacrifices—your sacrifices, my brothers and sisters—stand in contrast to the familiar worldly quests for personal fulfillment.
In a recent study on the service Mormons give, it was determined that they give 420 hours a year compared to those of other faiths giving on average 42 hours a year. Think of it, the hours spent by leaders in each ward and stake to administer the programs of the church and minister to others, all the time spent serving in callings. Think of the hours spent in the temple, the time and money to send missionaries out, and especially the sacrifice we make in our families.
Perhaps the most familiar and most important examples of unselfish service and sacrifice are performed in our families. Mothers devote themselves to the bearing and nurturing of their children. Husbands give themselves to supporting their wives and children. The sacrifices involved in the eternally important service to our families are too numerous to mention and too familiar to need mention.
Maybe we should stop and pat ourselves on the back. We need to see all that we are doing, and keep focused on what motivates us and why we want to sacrifice.
Truly, our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master and our fellowmen.
One young man said, "It's [the church] true, isn't it? Then what else matters."

I am grateful for the marvelous examples of Christian love, service, and sacrifice I have seen among the Latter-day Saints. I see you performing your Church callings, often at great sacrifice of time and means. I see you serving missions at your own expense. I see you cheerfully donating your professional skills in service to your fellowmen. I see you caring for the poor through personal efforts and through supporting Church welfare and humanitarian contributions.

...Such examples of giving to others strengthen all of us. They remind us of the Savior’s teaching:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself. …For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24–25).
And lastly,
Just as the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is at the center of the plan of salvation, we followers of Christ must make our own sacrifices to prepare for the destiny that plan provides for us.

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