We have all heard statements that are meant to elicit sympathy. “I’m doing this for your own good. This will hurt me more than it hurts you. It only hurts when I walk. I’d rather you have a nice dress than I get that warm coat.” The possibilities are endless.
When I was a child the word “martyr” had this kind of connotation. A martyr was a person who suffered in order to make another person feel guilty for his sacrifice. Later I learned another kind of martyr. He is a person who suffers in order for another to discover freedom from his own guilty pain. Making you aware of the cost his sacrifice is the last thing on his mind. The difference between the first martyr and the latter is found in the motive. The first suffers for self, and the later is willing to die to self.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a martyr as a person who chooses to die rather than deny a strongly held belief. He is someone who makes sacrifices or suffers for the sake or another. A Christian martyr is one, like martyrs of the faith in Hebrews 11, who believe in the message of Christ, and choose to suffer rather than sacrifice his faith. His motive is not selfish. It is about the Savior who changed his life, and he yearns to share that promise with the world. This sold-out disciple would rather suffer and perhaps even die than deny His calling. He chooses to serve no matter what his eyes see, or ears hear, or even how he feels. He is willing to lay down his life so another will discover the forgiveness and freedom found in Jesus Christ.
Are you like Christ? Is the personal cost of your sacrifice the last thing on your mind? Or does the personal cost weigh on your mind and claim your heart? Have you discovered the humility found in giving yourself away only for the sake of another person? Or does your sacrifice become your badge of service? Jesus' sacrifice reveals the heart of the humblest servant. “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8)! The greatest sacrifice He made was never about Him. It was all about you and me.
So what is the motive of my heart and of yours?