“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Paul’s teaching on God’s mercy, which led him to the “explosion of praise” from his pen in the closing verses of Romans 11 (see May 30th’s entry), is vital to know as we read this verse. After Paul recovers from the intensity of worship (Romans 11:32-36), he writes “Therefore.” “Therefore” always points to what preceded it. So because of this glimpse of God and who He is AND in view of His mercy – Paul urges us to offer our physical bodies as living sacrifices, holy (or set apart) and pleasing to God. Paul says to do this is worship! As we consider God and the awesome things He has done for us in Christ, of course we need to declare His worth. Paul’s urging is that this needs to happen in concrete, physical ways. Our lives lived in these bodies will be lived differently in view of God’s mercy. We cannot give lip service to God and call that worship. You can’t simply say you think a certain way or believe a certain thing… and don’t believe it when people say that nothing spiritually significant happens in the flesh. Everything of spiritual significance happens in the flesh! Our spiritual selves are housed in these physical bodies. Try and separate your spirit from your body and… well… you’ll be hurtin’ for certain! Worship is declaring God’s value and worth and will be demonstrated in the change of our hearts. When your heart is different, naturally it creates a change of life. How does this come about? What’s the source of this change? It’s all a response to God and in view of His mercy.
How do I offer my body as a living sacrifice? What does that look like? It seems to me that the remainder of Romans 12 is Paul describing this sacrifice, a life that is holy and pleasing to God. Instead of living for selfish purposes, I can live the kind of life that is described in Romans 12:3-21 (and into chapters 13, 14 & 15!). This is a life lived for God’s glory. This is worship! If I memorize these verses and live them out, I’ll be a long way down the road in offering my body as a living sacrifice.
Father – I want to be true in my love for You and others. I want to hate the things that you hate and hold on to what is good. Enable me to be devoted to those in Your church as a loving brother. Allow me the eyes to see opportunities to honor these people, as You would have me. I pray, Father, that You would stoke the fires of zeal in my life. Give me one pure and holy passion… a passion for You that is undying, unyielding and unafraid as I serve You with my life. Fill me with the joy of Your Spirit as I place my hope in You and the future that You have for me! Give me patience as difficulties arise – I want to keep my eyes on You. Curb my selfish heart, Father, and let me demonstrate who You are to others through my generosity. The things I have belong to You – I am Your steward. Increase my ability to be hospitable. Father, for those who think ill of me, I bless them and ask that You provide every good thing for them. Give me a sensitivity and a grace, Father, to celebrate with those who are celebrating and to mourn with those who are sad. Allow peace and harmony to depict the atmosphere that I walk in with all people – that they would experience You through me, is my prayer! I resist every ounce of pride that tends to surface in my life. Show me more of those places where pride resides that I might sacrifice them to You. Continue to chip away at me. Mold my character into the image of Jesus who came from You and who was not ashamed to associate with those who were poor or outcast. Father, make me like Jesus – all for Your glory.