My one thing
A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about bartering for a blessing, and we discussed Jephthah and his offering to the Lord. If it’s alright, I’d like to once again look at this story from another perspective. I believe there is much more to learn from this story besides what God already has shown us, so let's take another look at the scripture.
“Jephthah made this vow to the Lord: ‘If you, in fact, hand over the Ammonites to me, whoever comes out the doors of my house to greet me when I return safely from the Ammonites will belong to the Lord, and I will offer that person as a burnt offering.’ Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord handed them over to him. He defeated 20 of their cities with a great slaughter from Aroer all the way to the entrance of Minnith and to Abel-keramim, so the Ammonites were subdued before the Israelites. When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing. She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter besides her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, ‘No, not my daughter. You have devastated me. You have brought great misery on me. I have given my word to the Lord and cannot take it back.’” Judges 11:30-35
So again, we see Jephthah has made a vow to the Lord, and in verse 30 Jephthah offered whoever. I believe this was his anything cry: God, I will do anything, anything you want from me, I’m willing to do for you and your blessing. I’m guessing most of us have offered our anything before. In the midst of the good going on, we are willing to give anything for him, and then we find ourselves in verse 34.
“When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing. She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter besides her.”
God says to us, “Anything, huh? Well, what about your one thing?” Too often we are willing to sacrifice when the cost is minimal, but when it appears to be great, we tend to come up with every excuse why God surely wouldn’t want us to do that, to sacrifice that, whatever that may be for you.
For many years I was willing to give God anything, but my one thing, finances. The thought of paying tithes scared me to death because what if I couldn't pay my bills or have any fun. I was willing to give him anything, but not my one thing.
Perhaps for you, it’s a relationship you’re afraid you will lose if you allow God access to that part of your life. Maybe it’s an addiction. If you let God in, it may require help from those who love you and you can’t fathom coming clean with them and the heartbreak it may cause, so instead, you deny him access while the light inside of you slowly dies.
When God sent his son Jesus to die for us, it was the ultimate sacrifice. God sent Him for every part of us. He didn't sacrifice his son for bits and pieces of us. He died for every sin, every issue, every bondage, everything, even your one thing. The burnt offering it talks about in Judges 11 was a sacrifice. Sacrifice by definition is an act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God. Jesus sacrificed all, in life and death, for you and I. In life he came not as the royalty he was, but as the lowly. As a man, he lived homeless without a place to lay his head and took everything the world threw at him – physically, verbally, mentally and emotionally, all so Jesus would know how we feel. He sacrificed in life and in death, and He asks we do the same, not to make life hard for us, but so we can live in the fullness he has for us.
“Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself?’”Luke 9:23-25
The beauty of denying and dying to ourselves is fullness in Christ. We will never be, go or do all he has for us without first sacrificing ourselves. Jesus will not settle for anything, he wants everything, especially our one thing.
Downs serves as a young adult/college leader at her church with her husband. She writes faith-based columns in southern Missouri newspapers.