Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1 (NIV)
Paul urges the believers in Rome to give themselves to God as living sacrifices. Paul’s meaning was not lost on them because they lived in a worship system where offerings were typical. Jewish, Roman, and Greek religious practices all included sacrifices. All those sacrifices died, though, so this was a new concept. I am sure they had many discussions, and disagreements about how acting as a living sacrifice should play out in real life.
What does being a “living sacrifice” mean for us today?
Sacrifices have no rights.
If we are to be genuine living sacrifices to our God, we must release our rights. The sweet aroma of obedience in our lives brings honor and glory to Jesus. He sacrificed his life to redeem us. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Paul, recorded in Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV)
Sacrifices serve one purpose.
We may get involved in many things in our lives and ministry, but the goal should be singular. Bring praise and glory to God. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Jesus, recorded in Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
Sacrifices are not in control.
Though we all face the temptation to take control of where we are headed and what we will do there, as living sacrifices, the authority rests with the one for whom we are making the sacrifice. Our example is Jesus. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus, recorded in Luke 22:42 (NIV) It’s not that we can’t express an opinion, as Jesus did, but the ultimate control is God’s.
How would your priorities change if you were to commit yourself to act as a living sacrifice? Making a change like this is not an on/off switch kind of thing. It is a process with successful moments and times of failure. However, take heart, because “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Paul, recorded in Philippians 1:6