Building a Lifestyle of Sacrificial Love

Set Apart Girl
Leslie Ludy

In 1890, Catherine Booth wrote, “It will be a happy day for England when Christian ladies transfer their attentions from poodles and terriers to destitute and starving children*. She reminded women that living for pleasure and filling their days with eating, drinking, dressing, and sightseeing left no time to serve God and become His hands and feet to the poor and outcast. We as modern Christian women can greatly benefit from this reminder as well.

In many previous Set Apart Girl articles, we’ve talked about the importance of turning away from empty pursuits and pop culture distractions. But once we forsake these things, what should we be doing with our time? In addition to cultivating our relationship with Jesus Christ and serving the people He has placed in our life (husband, children, family members, friends) we have also been commissioned to rescue and defend the weak and vulnerable. This is not a special call for certain Christians. It’s the byproduct of coming away with Jesus. This is what Jesus Himself does.

Listen to how He described the ministry that the Father sent Him to do: “He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). And then He tells us, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you” (John 21:2). What a sacred calling He had entrusted to us! Are we taking it seriously?

Hudson Taylor once made a convicting statement that certainly applies to American Christians today: “It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to [the mission field]. With the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”

While God may not ask you to live in a foreign country, all of us are called to adopt a “missionary mindset” no matter where God has placed us. Ask Him to show you where and how to start being His hands and feet to the weak. Though the need around the world is staggering, He often wants to cultivate sacrificial love within us by starting with one.

When Eric and I first began to feel the call of God to reach the orphans of the world, the idea was daunting. We didn’t know where to begin. And then we heard about a baby girl from South Korea who had been abandoned because she had deformities on her feet and no fingers on her hands. And we knew this was the one God wanted us to start with. Today this little girl is our daughter, Harper Grace. Just over a year later, He led us to adopt a baby boy domestically and build a relationship with his birth mom through open adoption. As I write this book, we are in the process of bringing home two toddlers from Haiti.

God might not call you to adopt, as He has us. There are countless ways He may lead you to lay down selfish pursuits in exchange for a life of sacrificial love. The first step is willingness. The second is prayer. If you surrender your body, your life, your time, and your resources to His purposes, you can be sure that He will open your eyes to the ways in which He desires you to become His hands and feet. Here is a quick list of some of the people for whom God’s heart is especially burdened:

  • The persecuted church
  • The fatherless and widows
  • The impoverished
  • Prisoners and slaves
  • The sick and the elderly
  • Refugees and foreigners
  • The unborn
  • The unsaved

Ask God to show you which of these areas to invest your time and energies into. It may be a combination of more than one. Ask Him to burden you with His heart and His love for these precious lives. And ask Him to open your eyes to the needs right around you, and around the world.

It is relatively easy for us to toss money toward an orphanage fund, or to send toys and gifts to impoverished children during the holidays. Those small acts are needed and important. But God has called us to more. He doesn’t ask us to stand for the weak every once in a while, whenever it’s easy and convenient. Rather, we are called to a lifestyle of serving them. This will look different for each of us.

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