Christmas raises the question, “Do you have the heart for it?”

One of the secret hopes of many who profess to be Christian is that they’ll get through this profession of faith without having to make any real sacrifices.

But the example of Christmas is that to be used by God will demand sacrifice from us.

Look at the example of the two people God chose to bring about the first Christmas, Joseph and Mary.

As you read their part of the Christmas narrative in the New Testament, you see Joseph being asked to walk into a marriage he knew would cause him problems. Not from Mary, whom he loved, but from everyone else who would claim scandal because his fiance was pregnant and claiming the father was the Holy Spirit. Joseph’s integrity, decision-making, and even his faith would all be questioned by those who knew him.

But he was willing to sacrifice all of that to obey God.

Mary’s role would be all-encompassing. Her body would experience all the challenges of pregnancy while she battled the turmoil caused by trying to explain that no, Joseph wasn’t the father but yes, she loved Joseph and was faithful to him but no, she had not been with another man. She knew she sounded like a lying lunatic.

But she offered all of herself to be obedient to God.

To bring the Savior of the world into the world required of Joseph and Mary the making of sacrifices with their minds, hearts, bodies, relationships, and lifestyle choices in order to obey God and be used by Him. And to continue God’s mission of taking Christ to the world will require sacrifice from you and me as well. It is impossible to be faithful and obedient to God without having to endure real sacrifice. As much as you might try to avoid it, you can be sure that being true to following Christ will cost you.

Jesus would later define the scope of sacrifice required to be one of His disciples: “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it’,” Luke 9:23-24.

Are you willing to make real sacrifices to be faithful to God and to be used by Him? Or are you one of those people secretly hoping that God doesn’t ask you to make any sacrifices because you really don’t have the heart for it?