We like to emphasize the importance of being obedient: to the leaders, to the Lord Jesus and even to God´s life to our lives. Paul the apostle stated that "he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." There are many rewards in the life of obedience, and I know that for many, unfortunately, simply obeying is already a great challenge. However, there is a biblical standard of living that goes beyond "simple" obedience. Exceeds in terms of challenge and exceeds in reward! I'm talking about SACRIFICE: the grace to go beyond obedience. The Bible is filled with stories of men who have done more than what was needed, who have given themselves over and over. A clear example is among the churches in Macedonia:
2 Corinthians 8: 1-5 (New International Version) Now, brethren, we want you to know the grace that God has given to the churches of Macedonia. During the most severe affliction, their great joy and their extreme poverty OVERFLOWED in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave all that they could, AND EVEN THOUGH THEY CAN. BY THEIR OWN INITIATIVE they urged us insistently on the privilege of participating in the care of the saints. AND NOT ONLY THEY DID WHAT WE EXPECTED, BUT THEY DELIVERED FIRST TO HIMSELF TO THE LORD AND THEN TO US BY THE WILL OF GOD.
This passage moves me. Paul collected a specific offer for Jerusalem. He asked for the participation of many churches, but for some reason he saw no need for the Macedonian churches (including Philippi and Thessalonica) to help with this offer. But they "begged earnestly" to give as all others! I imagine that in a lot of churches, if the pastor says, "Let's raise an offering for this project, but you have to give nothing this time," many people would think, "Thank God!" These brethren, however, though they had no obligation, donated themselves spontaneously and above their own capacities ...
I am not talking about people sacrificing themselves under manipulation, but in such a level of surrender that surpasses what is written as a commandment. I realize by studying the Word that there was no person who made a sacrifice to the Lord and that did not experience a supernatural intervention. God's favor and divine disruptions are hidden in a place called "beyond obedience"!
The mere fact of sacrifice, in addition to benefits, enhances our ability to understand spiritual realities. The revelation of Jehovah Jireh (God the Provider) only came to the heart of Abraham when he set out to give up his beloved son. Talking about harvesting will never bring you to the same level of teaching that the very act of sowing. Another example of sacrifice is fasting: it is not an obligation in the New Testament, but it will increase your sensitivity to the things of the Spirit to new thresholds.
ANY ATTITUDE THAT IS NOT MANDATORY WILL RELEASE A BLESSING THAT WAS NOT MANDATORY! Let's look at an example. The woman reported in Matthew 26 had no obligation to pour an expensive perfume (300 denarii would be equivalent today to a perfume of more than eight thousand reais) at Jesus' feet. But because she went beyond obedience, Jesus also went beyond "routine blessings." Just as she had no obligation to do that, Jesus had no obligation to give a new commandment: "I assure you that in whatever place in the whole world where this gospel will be preached, what she has done will also be told in her memory."
Another example: Peter had no obligation to lend his boat to Jesus. He was tired after a whole night of fishing, and it was lawful to have his rest. But Jesus also had no obligation to provide a wonderful catch! Every unprecedented attitude in the Bible reveals an unprecedented miracle in one's life. Our willingness to go further with God releases the favor of Him to go with us. Let's look at David. He decided to make an offer to God. Araunah gave him all that was necessary to this offering.
1 Chronicles 21:24 And king David said to Araunah, "No! I DO QUESTION to pay the fair price. I will not give the Lord that which belongs to you, nor offer a burnt offering that will cost me nothing. "
This was the attitude of a man that was called a man after God´s own heart! Most people would say, "Thank God, I'll offer, and it will not even come out of my pocket"! You must understand that, he had NO OBLIGATION to buy anything, but sacrifice puts us into a position that surpasses the natural understanding, a blessing that goes beyond what has been done before.
To live beyond obedience can be summed up in the expression Jesus taught by saying, "If anyone forces you to walk a mile, go with him two." The mile of obligation will give you what you deserve. The mile of sacrifice will open the breakups, the spectacular and the unexpected! So, are you willing to walk an extra mile in everything you do?