According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary sacrifice is giving up of valued thing for the sake of another that is more worthy or more important or more urgent. The word sacrifice brings to mind a number of examples such as the sacrifices made by the heroes and heroines of the Liberation Struggle.
There is also the historical sacrifice at Calvary 2000 plus years ago for the redemption of mankind.
What is sad is that some of us never really get to appreciate the full value of that sacrifice that someone would have made for us. This is perhaps why the Apostle Paul in one of his epistles says that "should we continue sinning so that grace can increases?"
Sacrifice is never easy because it involves giving up something that is equally important. As a student you give up sleep and play to study. A parent gives up certain freedoms and luxuries for the children so they can grow up with the dignity they deserve. It is easier to be a recipient of the favour than the other way round.
It is not unusual for us to take other people in our lives for granted. It is easy to keep taking and even expect these people to do more without even thinking how much they also enjoy similar favours.
Like St Francis of Assisi in one of his prayers we should seek to comfort others rather be comforted.
I have noted with concern the erosion of some of our traditional values of sharing and sense of community. I think it was much easier in that context to consider others before ourselves.
It must have been easier then to surrender the right or part of what is rightfully ours so others could benefit. I recall when we were growing up in the village.
We used to share the little bit that was there even with strangers. Food was never too little to share with a stranger nor was a room too small to accommodate an additional member from the village.
Nowadays I know it has changed, we want big spaces for ourselves and when a visitor comes along it is like an invasion of privacy.
We live in a world that teaches us to optimise on benefits at least costs to ourselves.
I think dear reader, you are familiar with phrases such as cost cutting measures, right sizing and down-sizing as businesses look at reducing costs so as to maximise on benefits. It is this same spirit that drives people to bargain for lower rates/fees/prices (kuchema chema).
There are people who seek to derive maximum benefit from their relationships and dealings without investing much into them. They want to be loved, held in high esteem and to be served by others but they do not radiate the same to others. They lose sight of one of the life principles that says "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
People such as these are often described as selfish.
They would rather feed on someone's sweat without paying for it or give the barest minimum. I have heard preachers say that giving is not giving until it hurts because then you would have given from the best.
There is a breed of people who want to get rich at the push of a button. They seek after the luxuries of this world without having worked for them.
This is why we hear of weird occurrences in our neighbourhoods as people struggle to get the most out of our environment at least cost.
The tendency is to amass as much as possible even by unethical means. People such as these never stop to think about the effect of their actions on other people.
Yet one of the universal principles teaches that we harvest where we have sown.
Reaping a harvest requires sowing, hard work and a dosage of patience.
I also feel that the same spirit is creeping into churches. People want the comfort and pleasures of the world as much as they want the blessings and favours from God. They want very big returns that God can give them while they cannot even invest time and resources with him.
As a result they live as they please and only season their actions with religious talk and actions.
The biblical Ananias and Sapphira come to mind.
They wanted to be seen to be doing what other brothers and sisters were doing.
They sold their property but cheated on what they brought before the apostles.
They never lived to learn from their actions as their punishment was immediate.
It has been said that one can only get from a relationship what he/she has invested into it.
Experts have said that if you invest frustration or unforgiveness you are bound to reap the same from the relationship.
We should learn to sacrifice our time, luxuries and our comforts and more importantly ourselves so we can touch the life of another person.
We need to invest ourselves in worthy causes that bring love, hope and life to another person.
The festive season is by the corner and Christmas is a time for giving and so with a little bit more sacrifice we can make a huge difference to our worlds.