Romans 12:1-Therefore, I urge you, bothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We live in an “All about me” culture so the very idea of serving goes against the grain of our thinking and behavior. To say serving means swimming against the current would be an understatement. So when we come to Romans 12 and are presented with an “all in” sacrificial serving there is a part of us that holds back. We would be more comfortable to dabble or stay in the baby pool of serving where we can wade around without having to be fully immersed. Even though Paul starts out by saying “therefore” or “in view of everything that God has done for us” we still ask the question, is this really something that we have to be “all in” over? The truth is we are comfortable with God sacrificing and serving us but we really want this to be a spiritual one way street or at least one with a stop sign. Yet because God has shown us mercy, it should be our natural response to want to “OFFER” something back to HIM. On the surface we are ok with this, the problem is that what the Apostle points out is that God doesn’t just want “something” He wants “everything”! This word “Body” as in “to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,” doesn’t just speak of our flesh and blood, but to all that we are, our will, our attitudes, our desires, ultimately our very way of living! So yes, God is calling us to be “all in” and to sacrifice means to offering something that is precious, that has value, not just a something, but everything.
Will you offer your:
This idea of a “living sacrifice” must have been an interesting idea to the Jews of that day. This was something they had not heard of before, or had they? What about the case of Abraham offering Isaac upon the altar? To “offer” means, “to present once and for all.” In the Old Testament part of worship included sacrifice, a live animal was brought to the priest and the owner would lay hands on the beast to symbolically say, “This animal takes my place.” The animal was then killed and the blood was sprinkled upon the altar.
Once a sacrifice is offered to God, you can’t take it back. When we are called to present our “bodies” to the Lord, we are exhorted to offer our total being to Him, not just bits and pieces. God does not just want to be a “part” of our lives; He wants us to be completely committed to Him. The problem with a living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar! At the heart of the offering that was made to God was the idea that it was set apart, completely devoted to Him.
Verse 1 calls for a decisive commitment to fully surrender and Verse 2 tells us how we can maintain that commitment by renewing our mind and not following the fashion and pattern of the world. The world’s way of doing things is always built on selfishness, not selflessness, and the tense of this verse indicates that we must stop conforming, implying that this is something that we are doing. If we are completely honest, there is always a pull in our lives to conform, to give in, to stop serving. If we’re serious about surrendering fully to Christ, we must focus on being transformed and not being conformed to those things the world values. This transformation has to occur in our thinking because he who controls the mind, owns the person. So it is by the renewing of our minds that we trade the old pattern of selfishness for the new pattern of service.
Free will has been debated up and down through the centuries and the reality is that God allows us to make choices. Yet the more we exercise our will and do what we want, the greater our problems become. There was a point in my life when I realized I was not good at exercising my will and realized I could give it over to God. The amazing gift is that He does not dominate our wills, but allows us to choose His will. This is an active verb and we learn His will by doing. When you wonder what God’s will is for your life, the first place to start is by living out Romans 12:1-2. Until you offer Him your body, your mind, and your will, you won’t understand His good, pleasing, and perfect will. We tend to focus God’s will on the “what” our occupation, or the “where” our location, but God is more interested in our transformation. His will is for us to become like His Son, the one who made it His goal to serve those around Him with His life.
Are you “all in” or is there something you are holding back that is getting in the way of your serve? Are you ready to get your selfishness out of the way and to be all in?