Wednesday Words
Pastor Cathy Daharsh
August 30, 2023

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24

The reading this week Sunday focuses on what it means to live out your faith in a sacrificial way. The definition of self-sacrifice in the Collin’s Dictionary is “a decision to give up something you want or need so that others can have what they want or need.”

Growing up in the Roman Catholic church there was a huge emphasis on living out your faith with a servant’s heart and giving until it truly was a sacrifice. I remember when I was starting my first year of teaching one of my mentors from my high school youth group, who also was a teacher, said to me that if you are tired at the end of a teaching day then you have done your job to the best of your ability. I took that to heart, and ever since have tried to give my all in everything I do.
In the book of Romans this week the Apostle Paul gives advice on how to live out your faith. Paul Feldmeyer created a list from the Roman’s reading:

  1. Don’t fake love, keep it real.
  2. Be good friends who love deeply.
  3. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
  4. When things get hard, don’t quit, pray harder.
  5. Help those in need; be creative and inventive in hospitality.
  6. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.
  7. Laugh with your friends when they're happy; cry with them when they’re down.
  8. Get along with each other.
  9. Don’t be conceited, make friends with nobodies.
  10. Don't hit back.
  11. Don't insist on getting even.
  12. Fight evil by doing good.

I think a lesson that I have had to learn and must keep learning, is that, in order to care for others to the best of my ability, I need to care for myself first.
“Put your own mask on first.”

Every time you travel somewhere by airplane, you hear the safety direction that if the little plastic masks fall from above, put it on your face first. Then help others near you. The unspoken message is, of course, that you won’t be of any use or help to anyone if you’re struggling to breathe. So put your mask on first so you’ll be able to help those who need help.

Nowhere in scripture are we told to throw our lives away. Yes, self-sacrifice is an essential part of living in the gospel, but our self-sacrifice will be more effective and helpful and meaningful if we do some basic self-care, some planning and preparation before the need to sacrifice is before us.
The challenge is to find balance. We can lose ourselves in caring for others and not ourselves, and we lose ourselves in caring for only ourselves. Caring for others and ourselves are both important, where are you in the continuum of the two?

Being kind and generous is the essence of living out our faith, but it comes at a price, and we need to always remember to put on our own mask first. Amen.