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.
Recently I was asked how I would encourage another person to live as a follower of Christ. My response included considering the twelfth chapter of Romans as a starting place based on the practical application of the truth intended for our lives.
After writing eleven chapters describing the theology of a changed life, in just a few paragraphs, Paul sums up what it means and begins with the idea of a “living sacrifice.”
It sounds like a foreign idea to us today, but instead of killing an animal and offering it on an altar (which would be much easier by the way), Paul describes the kind of self-sacrifice defined as “giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”
What does that look like, really? In his paraphrase of the passage, Eugene Peterson sums it up this way –
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
A self-sacrificial commitment is not the easiest path because we do come face to face with self-denial and it means that sometimes we have to renounce things or priorities or relationships.
But what about the positive rewards? Think about the parable of the man who found the buried treasure in Matthew 13:44 – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Yes, he sold everything. Yes, he sacrificed. But look at what he gained. The treasure was much more valuable than the price he paid.
Jesus compares this kind of gain to the Kingdom of Heaven. So our choice to surrender to God in every area of our lives is logical because He wants the best for us. Our choice is smart because He has already paid the price for us. When we believe this then we may face renunciation of our lives, but it is much more a true reevaluation of our priorities.