I am currently reading Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot, and I ran across something that made me stop dead in my tracks. OK, well maybe not dead, just stunned and thoughtful. :-)
"In Lilias Trotter's beautifully illustrated book, Parables of the Cross, she describes the death-life cycle of plants, which illustrates the spiritual processes that must go on in us if we are to die to self and live to God.....
'The fair new petals must fall, and for no visible reason. No one seems enriched by the stripping.
And the first step into the realm of giving is a like surrender-- not manward but Godward: an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped the true meaning: that is not worthy of the name for 'no polluted thing' can be offered.
The life lost on the Cross was not a sinful one-- the treasure poured forth there was God-given, God blessed treasure, lawful and right to be kept: only that there was the life of the world at stake."
This is a truly amazing thought. The Lord deserves more than a negative offering-- the renouncing of the things forbidden. He deserves and requires the positive offering of things which seem good to us. He asks us to put our faith in him and give up our best for his service.
It is easy to look at something you have or something you desire and say to yourself that it is a good thing and therefore God must approve you having it. But the way that seems right unto man may not be right by God's reckoning, and so we must be prepared and willing to give up even the things that we would have sworn it was good for us to have.
I sometimes fall into traps of thinking that I am really being a good Christian because I am keeping all the rules and giving up the things of the world. But the truest sacrifice is to give up the things that seem good and right. Are we ready to literally offer our best?