The goal of today’s writing is to push us into powerful, real, and authentic Christianity. So often we, myself included, see the world through a faulty lens. We see a world that revolves around us. The apostle Paul would like to push us away from this false perspective. Paul will show us that this life is not about us. In light of this truth, he will show us how we ought to live.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
Do you feel as if you are a living sacrifice? Are you presenting your body to God in this way each morning? Paul says that this is our spiritual worship! A living sacrifice does not wake up and say, “This world is all about me!” Instead, this person wakes up and sees the bigger picture. He or she sees each day as an opportunity to live for the God of heaven.
The fifth word in Romans 12:1 is a big one. One of the smallest, but most profound, tips for studying the Bible is to pay attention to words like therefore. Therefore is indicating that the writer is connecting thoughts or phrases. So when Paul uses therefore in the verse above, we need to look at what came before. Romans 11:36 is the prior verse, and it makes the whole thing come together.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)
So right before Paul tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, he tells us that all things are for Jesus, through Jesus, and to Jesus. Translation: this life is not about us. Everything is for Jesus. Everything is about Jesus. All things have been created for the Savior of the world. The world spinning is not dependent upon us. Do you see how this brings Romans 12:1 to life? We present ourselves as living sacrifices because for Him and through Him and to Him are all things! Nothing else makes sense!
The mindset of a Christian, as explained throughout the Bible, is one that puts his or her own wants and desires on the back burner. Biblical Christians are not concerned with making a name for themselves. A Christian is focused on making a name for the One whom everything is for, through, and to. The glory of Christ is the concern of the Christian, and we must know that this selfless life is not a sad life! A sacrificial, Christ-exalting life is one full of purpose and joy! Paul is not withholding life from us with his command in Romans 12:1. Instead, he is leading us towards life!
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
Life is found when we lay it down for the King of the universe. Life is not found in retirement. Life is not found in a good career. Life is not found in fame. Life is not found on vacation. Life is only found when it is surrendered in a sacrificial way. Life is a day by day, moment by moment, offering yourself up to the Lord for His plans and purposes. Christians must choose to lay their lives at the feet of Jesus daily. This is spiritual worship. This is life in its fullness! Jesus says, “Lose your life for my sake and you will find it!”
This writing comes out of much conviction in my own heart. There are days where I feel like I want to do nothing more than lay on the couch and forget about my call to take up my daily cross. Then the realization hits me: the cross I am called to carry is nothing in comparison to the cross Jesus carried for the salvation of my soul. Christ died for us. We have no rational response other than to live for Him! Choose, in this moment, to offer your body as a daily, living sacrifice. Walk in true spiritual worship!
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
Ten verses after Paul tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, he tells us to not be slothful in our zeal. Oh, how I need that verse! It is so easy to become slothful or lazy in our effort to lay ourselves down. We are selfish by nature, and that tension is constantly waging war against our obedience to Jesus. We must press through. “Serve the Lord,” Paul says. Our selfishness responds with, “Serve your own wants and desires.” Faith that is alive and active constantly trumps the voice of selfishness. “Hush, selfish heart! I will serve the Lord!”
I want to end by again asking, do you feel like a living sacrifice? Are you serving the Lord above your own desires? Throughout the book of Acts we see the apostles continually laying themselves down to spread the glory of Jesus. Persecution and beatings did not stop them from presenting their bodies as living sacrifices. Laziness was not an option for them. How could they do it? They saw the bigger picture. They found their lives by laying them down. We will find the same reality if we have the faith to take the first step and push through the selfishness and slothful attitude.
So present yourself to Jesus as a daily, living sacrifice. This life is clearly not about us, and that is a great thing! All things are from Him, through Him, and to Him! He died for us. How can we not live for Him?