God's Value System

Chapter 7: Becoming a sacrificial lover


The concepts in this book are not difficult to understand, but changing your value system can be very difficult. We like our desires and values, even though we do not always like the results of them. We also prefer that other people change their values to match ours rather than change ourselves.

It can be extremely difficult to practice sacrificial love. You must understand that you cannot merely stop doing selfish things without replacing them with sacrificial actions. The only way to permanently break bad habits is to replace them with good ones. Even though we might be convinced that sacrificial love will transform our relationships, we still struggle with selfishness and fear.

You were created to live in great relationships, yet relational pain is the worst kind of pain in life. Only by living sacrificial love can we undo the damage that we have caused in our relationships. Being successful in loving others sacrificially requires a commitment beyond the current relationship. Since sacrificial love for the benefit of others is God's value system, living it requires his help.

Since all relationship is based on common value systems, deliberately choosing a value system that is different from God's is a choice to limit relationship with him. To reject God's value system is to reject him. The essence of sin is choosing a value system other than God's. It began with mankind's choice to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. The result of that choice was a breaking of relationship with God.

Not only did we lose our relationship with God, we also damaged our relationships with one another. From the moment we chose our own value systems, we began having conflict with each other, we began blaming each other for our problems, and we began hiding our true values from each other.

The consequence of not sharing a common value system with God is death: separation and broken relationship. Yet God put his own value system into practice by having his own Son experience death for us. God's value system is sacrificial love for the benefit of others, and it was exemplified when Jesus Christ died on the cross. God put the relational consequences of our rebellion (in choosing our own value systems) on Christ. Jesus' relationship with God was broken so that we could experience life and restored relationship with God.

However, Jesus could not remain dead and out of relationship with his Father because they perfectly share the same value system. Jesus rose from the dead and promises eternal salvation to all those who trust that their relationship with God can be restored through his death and resurrection.

God did his value system toward us by having his Son die as a sacrifice of love given to help us. Jesus' death allows us to enter into relationship with God even though we had previously chosen value systems different from his. Through a restored relationship with God based on his treatment of us in sacrificial love, we gain the motivation and power to live his value system.

God did his value system for us at the cross and he asks us to live that same value system for one another. We are to love others by considering their needs before our own and by forgiving them when they hurt us. When Jesus died on the cross he gave up his bodily appetites, having people like him, and all power, wealth, and control. If we want to have our relationships improve, we need to be willing to sacrifice as well.

As in human relationships, resolving your relationship issues with God involves the four steps to an agreement on values. First, you must confess that your value system is not like his. Second, you must repent of choosing selfish values and then adopt God's value system of sacrificial love. Third, you need to ask God to forgive you--something he will gladly do. And fourth, you need to be reconciled to God. That means you need to continue to seek relationship with him based on his value system and enter into the community of all those who share his value system.

Christ's death on the cross allows for a change in our relationship with God, but it also reveals the value system that can fix all of mankind's relational problems. If all human relationships and interactions were based on sacrificial love for others there would be no more war or exploitation. People would care for the environment and seek to help raise those in need out of their poverty.

Sacrificial love takes commitment and faith. It is the value system that can make the world a better place, beginning with you, your family, and your friends. You do not need to believe in Christ to benefit from practicing his value system. However, being involved in a community of people who share this common value system will enable you to understand and live it as God intended.

When people come to Jesus, they either come seeking something from him or seek to become like him. Discipleship is an issue of becoming like the one you follow--the Master. Jesus taught that he wanted people to become like him and adopt his value system of sacrificial love. Faith in Christ is believing that he loves you and that you demonstrate your love for him in how you love others.

Jesus invited people to enter the spiritual Kingdom of God. If you are not part of the Kingdom of God, then you have not taken the step of committing yourself to follow God's value system of sacrificial love. Desiring to have God's value system as your own is a requirement for entering the Kingdom. Commitment to following God's value system is important for change, because change is fundamental to improving your relationships.

In God's Kingdom there is only one rule: to love one another sacrificially. The consequence of breaking that rule is forgiveness. This is how God treats all those in his Kingdom, and it is how all those in the Kingdom are to treat one another. Only in God's Kingdom will you obtain strength from God to move from a selfish value system to one of sacrificial love.

Living sacrificially all the time is very difficult. We have habits and desires that can only change as we continuously practice God's value system. You need to be part of a community of people who are also committed to living a life of sacrificial love. They will encourage you and help you understand how to love as God does.

In order to improve your relationships, you will need teaching and encouragement to become a sacrificial lover. Your knowledge of God's value system will grow as you read the New Testament and learn what sacrificial love is like when lived out in relationships. However, God does not expect us to live by a list of rules and laws. If we understand sacrificial love properly, and desire to live it, we will begin to do good things for others and avoid doing them harm. That is why anyone who is truly teaching about God's value system will not exploit you.

People have many different ideas of what it means to grow closer to God, but when these ideas are wrong or incomplete it leads to conflict. The only measure of relationship is how much two people agree on value system. This is no different in your relationship with God. Knowing God is an issue of how much you share his value system of sacrificial love. Many people think that God has a long list of rules for them to follow, but actually he only seeks to have one main value take root in our hearts. If our deepest held value is sacrificial love for the benefit of others, all of how we treat others will be positively affected, and we will experience the kinds of relationships that God intends us to have.

Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins, and faith alone brings salvation; however, seeking forgiveness of sin is always about the desire to restore relationship with the one you have offended and never merely about avoiding punishment. To want the benefits of relationship with God requires a commitment to relationship that exists on truth: a relationship based on God's value system of sacrificial love for the benefit of others.