To live that kind of extraordinary life requires self-discipline and self-denial. The cost is great but the reward is even greater – seeing lives changed!
I’ve been praying the famous prayer of St Francis this week – ‘Make me an instrument of your peace’ which ends by naming these three same qualities: forgiving, giving and sacrifice.
Make me an instrument of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in giving that we receive
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
People normally find it hard to forgive those who’ve hurt them. That’s understandable but it won’t do. Not to forgive just contributes to the pain in the world. That’s why Jesus said that his followers must forgive (Matthew 6:12-15). God loves to forgive and will empower us to do the same, if we ask. That means that every time we are wronged is an opportunity to love like God – with a forgiving love. St Francis discovered this. That’s why truly great people do not bear grudges.
St Francis knew what it was to have much, and to have little. He chose to give his resources away and never regretted it. John Wesley modelled a life of giving and urged people to ‘give as much as you can’. If we want to make an impact, we must do the same. It’s not good enough to leave it to others. God gives us money not just for us, but to share (Matthew 6:2). That’s why generosity is a key value at The Belfrey. We give to change lives. That’s why this weekend we’re asking people to give to our special Gift Day which is all about giving to make a difference.
Following Jesus begins with sacrifice (Matthew 16:24). We put to death our selfishness and sinfulness in the waters of baptism and are given a whole new life reorientated around Christ. But the way in is also the way on, and so there’ll be times when we’re called to extraordinary sacrifice. This often feels tough but is always worth it. Because death always leads to resurrection.
So St Francis had it right! And he got his inspiration from Jesus, who fills us with his Spirit so we can do extraordinary things – like forgive, give and sacrifice.