March 16, 2016

3 Examples: Self-Sacrifice Leads to Amazing Victories


I’ll be honest. I am not the biggest fan of science fiction around. Nevertheless, I am a huge fan of the original Star Trek series and movies. To me, their main message is worth its weight in gold:

People of different backgrounds working together can overcome limited viewpoints and expectations. In order to do so, they must often give up part of what makes them feel unique, strong, or comfortable.
The Necessity for Self-Sacrifice

No nation, or relationship, thrives if people aren’t prepared to give up something.  It just isn’t possible. If few people are willing to fight to make a nation strong, it may not survive. By the same token, if somebody isn’t willing to surrender some of his needs to keep a relationship going, it may fizzle out.

Individuals who are self-centered or selfish don’t see beyond the moment—or further than themselves. Their vision is restricted. Such people don’t see the value in working with others to make a better world.

The truth is that few large-scale improvements are made in isolation. Earth shakers are willing to work together in order to form a free nation, a healthier relationship, a career that leaves a lasting legacy, and so forth.

George Washington

He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He was also the first President of the United States. Washington was often described by contemporaries as humble and selfless. The foremost soldier and political figure of his time was actually a wealthy plantation owner from Virginia, not a career politician.

This great man was happy with the uncomplicated country life of his estate: Mt. Vernon. He always maintained he didn’t want the position of commanding general. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are the ones who referred him for the job. However, in the end, the Continental Congress approved the appointment unanimously.

Here’s another example of the gentleman farmer’s modesty: He insisted on serving without any compensation except for the reimbursement of expenses. He was in a continual battle with Congress to pay the wages that were due: those of his starving men.

The Soldiers at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

Members of the army often left families and businesses in order to fight for freedom. On the contrary, the British were professional soldiers from one of the most powerful countries on earth. What rational hope did the untrained colonials have? Absolutely none.

The colonists knew that winning was a long shot.  However, they sacrificed their individual needs in order to keep the common dream of liberty alive. What were the immediate “rewards” of staying in the game?
  • Hunger—Many days there was nothing to eat.  The History Channel suggests that the main food staple on other days was firecake. This is a mixture of flour and water that was cooked in iron kettles. (No yeast was available.) On good days, it was tasteless. On bad days, the men would find pests such as maggots and weevils mixed in with the flour.
  • Sickness—History buff, Dave Meyer, says that ¼ of the men died from flu, smallpox, and typhoid fever.
  • Freezing weather—One of the coldest on record. Many died of exposure.
  • Money—They usually didn’t get paid for months at a time.
  • Clothes—Many soldiers wore rags. Some had no coats. Others had no shoes.

Elijah

This prophet is another example of someone who gave up much for the future—and for the greater good. Various scriptures hint at Elijah’s melancholy nature. Most likely, he suffered from depression.

He wasn’t an outgoing individual who thrived in the limelight. However, passages such as I Kings, chapter 18, show us how hard he worked to overcome his natural tendency to introversion. He fearlessly confronted the priests of Baal in a public showdown.

My Conclusion

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”—John 12:24-25 (NIV)

How many crucial improvements in the world would happen if everyone concerned themselves only with their present comfort? Not many. George Washington, his soldiers, and the prophet Elijah are only three examples of individuals and groups who selflessly provided a safer, happier world for their countrymen.


How have you sacrificed your comfort for the greater good?