Heroes sacrifice. They give. Heroes are about giving. You cannot divorce heroism and giving. All the heroes we know had to give something. Some money, others comfort, while yet others paid with their own lives. Heroes demonstrate great love not just for the cause but the people. The passion they have makes them overlook all the risks.
Sometimes greatest victories come with greatest sacrifices. What sacrifice are we willing to make? Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.’ This is exactly what Jesus did in order to become the hero of salvation.
God’s love for the world and His great task of dealing with the issue of sin led Him to offer His best. John 3:16 “God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and only son.” The measure of the task requires an equal measure of sacrifice.
1. Heroes Serve Sacrificially
Most of the time, God does not reveal the awaiting sacrifice when He calls us to perform a certain task.
Jephthah, in Judges 11:30-31 made a vow to the Lord. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
Here’s why Jephthah took this task seriously:
- Although he was a great warrior, his mother was a prostitute. Why was this a big deal in Israel?
- Because he was the son of a prostitute, His half-brothers chased him off the land
- In addition, he was denied his father’s inheritance because
- He was surrounded by a band of worthless rebels
So, when the Israelites were attacked and harassed by the Ammonites, the elders went back to look for Jephthah – may be because of his heroism as a great warrior. In verse 7 Jephthah asked them, “Aren’t you the ones who hated me and drove me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now when you’re in trouble?”
Jephthah then went with the elders and was made king; he then decided to go to war with the Ammonites. He was yet to realize that great victories come with greater sacrifice, when he made a vow to God. “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
This victory was important to him. It was a way of getting back all that he had lost. This was the one chance he was going to present himself before the elders and kinsmen in equal standing. No longer the son of a prostitute, but a mighty warrior who has delivered Israel from the fierce Ammonite army.
When war broke out with the Ammonites, the leaders of Gilead believed Jephthah had the skills to lead their army successfully against the Ammonites. Remember, in life there are no permanent enemies. Jephthah agreed to fight, because winning would make him a hero. This one event provided Jephthah with the opportunity to wipe out the stain of his illegitimacy and give him full acceptance among the Israelites.
Sadly, it is his only daughter who came out of the house first to meet him.
Judges 11:34-35 says, “When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. “Oh, my daughter!” he cried out. “You have completely destroyed me! You’ve brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.”
What pain and agony he must have felt! While other’s were celebrating, there was mourning in Jephthah’s home. He had made a great sacrifice. From his story we learn that:
- People may hate you for something you did not start
- Your past should not determine your present
- Forget about vengeance
- People’s views do not mirror God’s views
- Great victories come with sacrifices
In another biblical illustration, we see that the Macedonian church, which was faced by poverty and difficulty, chose to give of themselves as a sign of the highest sacrifice, in order to give offering for the Jerusalem church.
The Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2. Heroes Serve Selflessly
In Nehemiah chapter 1, Nehemiah got word about the state of Jerusalem. Verse 3 says “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” This report moved him to action.
We need to understand that Nehemiah was serving as a butler to the king. He had a relatively good life, but this information bothered him so much that it affected his countenance. The news about his city, miles away gave him a lot of discomfort.
Within 52 days:
- Nehemiah had mobilized people and resources to rebuild the wall
- Nehemiah had overcome all manner of oppositions
- Nehemiah had restored a sense of pride and community
- Nehemiah had restored proper worship in Jerusalem
- Nehemiah had the wall rebuilt
A sense of selflessness is vital for any heroic act. It is impossible to be of value to others if a sense of self-importance is what matters to us. You cannot afford to think too much of yourself if you desire to change people’s lives.
Nehemiah acted out of what he had heard. We hear so much today (TVs, Newspapers, Radios, and 411 from others); the question is, how do we react to the news we receive?
- I don’t care – I don’t care is a common refrain
- I feel nothing – We are numbed/insensitive
- I am too busy – Someone else can do it / the government, the church, etc.
- It is too beneath me – We are too important for some task
Heroes Serve with Self-control
Self-control is a necessity for everyone who desires to make a difference. In whatever you do, there is need for control—not control from external sources but self-control. Without it, people destroy themselves and others. The bible has a lot to say about self-control:
Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22 says, “…But the fruit of the Spirit is…and self-control.”
1 Peter 4:7 says, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”
Self-control is an important marker for heroes. Many people have been known to do exploits but have fallen short when it came to controlling their passions, words, and anger. The bible gives us examples of heroes who did well, but lost it due to a lack of self-control:
- Judges 8:24-27 – Gideon had led Israel very well. With only 300 men, he subdued the Midianites. He however made an ephod—a priestly garment that diverted Israel from worshiping God as they paid homage to it. Verse 27 tells us, “Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
- 2 Samuel 11 – 12 – David was doing very well. His armies were fighting and as he took a stroll on the roof of his house, he saw more than he had expected. He lingered a little bit longer than necessary and ended up losing his self-control. He allowed his desire to rule his actions. He not only committed adultery with Bathsheba but had her husband Uriah killed and then he married her.
- 1 Kings 11:1-8 – King Solomon surrounded himself with 700 wives and 300 concubines who eventually led him astray. He no longer followed the Lord wholeheartedly. With no self-control, he was like a loose cannon.
Self-control is an important quality to life. There are things we can consent to and others that we must refuse to be part of. God is faithful to guide us by His word, but we have to make the ultimate decision to obey or disobey Him. Self-control is needed most when success becomes imminent, this is because success comes with power; success and power without self-control can be equated to leaking gas in a room, a little spark will set the room ablaze.
Harris W. Lee. In his book “Effective Church Leadership” says:
- In the individual, power is to be used to promote self-control, not self-indulgence.
- In the home, power is to be used to nurture confidence, not subservience.
- In the marriage, power is to be used to enhance communication, not isolation.
- In the church, power is to be used to inspire faith, not conformity.
- In the school, power is to be sued to cultivate growth, not inferiority.
- On the job, power is to be used to facilitate competence, not promote feelings of inadequacy.
To make a difference (which we can all do) we need to serve sacrificially,serve selflessly and serve with self-control.
You can make a difference in this church – serve; you can make a difference by giving a hand (in like or in kind) to ensure that the Connection Center is completed on schedule; you can make a difference at your workplace – what help do your colleagues need?
Think about it, then act.