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Honoring the sacrifice

Sometimes service requires sacrifice — whether it is as a parent caring for their child or a doctor getting called away from home in the middle of the night to tend to a suffering patient. When we choose to serve others or to serve a cause it should be expected that sacrifice will be required in some way.

A police officer places his or her life on the line each time they suit up and step out into the world. Our soldiers and military personnel choose to serve their country, and in turn they accept that time away from their family and friends is perhaps the most minor of the sacrifices they are making. They also accept that losing their lives in other countries — where they are often times viewed as the enemy — is perhaps the highest sacrifice they could be making.

We often times fail to take the time to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by others in order to raise us, protect us, assist us and in some cases, save us.

Memorial Day is one of those points in the year where we are challenged to deliberately take the time to “remember” the fallen. Memorial Day asks us to stop and honor, recall and appreciate the sacrifices made by soldiers in the mission of protecting us, serving our country and giving their lives for the preservation of peace through war.

How do we best honor a person’s sacrifice though? How to we best demonstrate our understanding and appreciation for the sacrifice that has been made for us? In writing to the church in Galatia, Paul states the following in Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

Paul reminds the church in Galatia that they have been called to be free or set free by the sacrifice of Christ. He also reminds them in this brief statement that they should not waste their freedom by being sinful and self-serving. Instead he encourages them to “use their freedom to serve one another in love.”

Our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice; believing in him and being saved by his grace; accepting his offer of salvation, makes us free. We are no longer condemned to death, but rather set free from sin and death. With Christ, perhaps the best way we can honor His sacrifice is to accept it, be thankful for it and “use our freedom” to serve one another through loving one another.

How does this relate to this time of memorial remembrance? With those who serve around us for the sake of our freedom; for those who have come before us that gave us our freedom; and for those who have given their lives to secure our freedom, perhaps the best way we can honor their sacrifice, is found in the same scriptural answer: Accept it, be thankful for it and honor it by serving those around us.

Barry Vassar is pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist Church in Cumberland. His email address is fitzgeraldmemorial@gmail.com.