Sharing your leftovers is not sacrifice. Giving from your abundance is not sacrifice. Offering up your extras is not sacrifice.
There can be no sacrifice without cost.
When you give away the clothes your kids have grown out of, that is not a sacrifice. When you have $127 in your wallet and you give the guy on the corner a buck, that is not sacrifice. When you re-gift, that is not sacrifice. When you give someone a ride to a place you were going to anyway, that is not sacrifice. When you do anything which costs you nothing, that is not sacrifice. Because where there is no cost there can be no sacrifice. You may share. You may give. You may offer. These are all good things. But they are not sacrifice.
Sacrifice is the Incarnation.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
5 6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! — Phil 2:5-8
Nor can there be sacrifice without choice.
If you hold me at gunpoint and force me to give up my wallet, that is stealing, not sacrifice. Taxation, Oppression, Extortion, Prison — any time force is present, sacrifice is absent. You cannot make someone sacrifice anymore than you can make them love. Some things can only be done by choice.
Sacrifice is the Crucifixion.
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”– Mt 26:39, ESV
And there is no sacrifice without limit.
We live in a “no limits” world. Which is exactly our problem. Sacrifice requires self-limitation. We choose to have less, do less, be less that others might have, do and be more. The mother who works in order to pay for her daughter’s dance classes. She chooses to limit her time and possibilities for the benefit of her child. The husband who gives up his monthly poker night because it’s the one night a month his wife is guaranteed to have off. He limits one area of his life in order to love in another. There is an opportunity cost to sacrifice, often unseen.
The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Sacrifice is the Ascension
…but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. — Jn 16:5-7
Jesus calls us to lives of sacrifice. Not giving only from our abundance. Not sharing the extra. But taking from what matters. He invites us to choose these little deaths. He did. And he rose again. So, too, do we find resurrection, new and abundant life in Sacrifice.