Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (KJV)
Life is a sacrifice.
Obedience is better than sacrifice.
Victory is guaranteed in Christ.
Everybody responds to love.
Love is essential! The task God has called us to will not succeed without real, earnest, examples of LOVE being exhibited through our lives. People respond to love and we all have an idea of what it looks like. God’s mercy opens the door for us to become examples of His love, and He speaks to us through both His Word and the leading of His Spirit teaching us His expectation for us in love. He expects that we become living sacrifices. We are to be holy and acceptable to God.
The thought of being a living sacrifice brings to mind images of pain, discomfort, and hardship; so, to the natural mind, it is not a good idea to become a sacrifice. This is a paradox. The relationship of life and sacrifice is both overwhelming and inspiring. It is impossible to impact this world with the message of the gospel without becoming a sacrifice. Death is not a pleasant thought and physically we will go to any lengths to keep sustain or protect our lives. (Please note: I am not in any way suggesting we literally hang on a cross or in any way take the place of Christ.) Spiritually, however, we must lay down our lives to be holy and pleasing to God. We sacrifice our ambitions, wants, and desires to satisfy a holy calling. The only way that is possible is through LOVE –– Life is a sacrifice. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Victory is guaranteed in Christ. Everybody responds to love.
Scripture tells us that we are transformed through the power of His love and the first representation of that transformation is our view of life. We no longer live to be served — we live to serve! Life, at least the Christian life of abundance, is sacrifice. Scripture also tells us this is not simply expected; it is a reasonable expectation as an act of our worship. Is anyone else feeling caught in the balance, teetering on the edge? The only reliable, surefooted, approach to accepting our position in this paradox is deep, abiding faith. God never calls us to something He does not equip us for. Therefore we have the ability to become living sacrifices offered up on the altar as a life that is lived to the glory of God. He enables us to live as examples of His love.
Daily living as a sacrifice by the grace given to us from God shows two things to the world around us. First it shows our commitment to God and second it shows God’s commitment to all who place their trust in Him. Living a life of love becomes easy when we relinquish control of our life to Christ. Allowing Jesus Christ to live His life through us is the only way to become a living sacrifice. Accepting Christ’s sacrifice makes God our Father.
Growing up we learned to deal with situations by watching our parents. We did as they did, thought as they thought, and spoke as they spoke. The natural process of maturity begins with imitation. The spiritual process of maturity also begins with imitation. Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We are the children of God. We must be imitators of His actions until those actions become our nature. In that way our life in Christ is a sacrifice. Our nature is being sacrificed in order that we may be transformed. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Love requires that we do the right thing. The right thing is not always popular. The right thing is not always comfortable. The right thing is not always the easiest thing to do, but it is always right. God is calling us to holiness. God always does the righteous thing and He expects the same holiness and righteousness in our actions. (Philippians 2:14-18)
To live as a sacrifice demands the ultimate level of service. Love, joy, peace and patience are the fruit of a life lived to the glory of God. His desire is not for offerings and sacrifices. They may become an element of pride in our lives. God’s desire is our humble, loving, and righteous service. In biblical times it was acceptable practice for a servant to choose to stay with a household forever once their time of service was fulfilled. To make this public decision there was a ritual they would go through. The ear of the servant would be opened by nailing the servant to the doorpost of the house through the earlobe. This piercing of the ear signified their choice to stay with the household forever. God is looking for our conscious decision to serve Him. (Psalm 40:6)
In the Old Testament a sacrifice was made to cover every type of wrong committed. The process was quite demanding. As living sacrifices our obedience is what God is after. He clearly outlines His expectations in the Bible. Following His plan, our testimony should be offered freely. Our praise to God should be joyous, and our service to Him should penetrate every avenue of our lives. Obedience to God and His plan for us take precedence over the sacrifices we offer. Life is a sacrifice. It is not a matter of convenience! It is a matter of obligation, but fulfilling the obligation brings great joy and contentment. (Psalm 107:22)
Service with thanksgiving is highly valued in the Kingdom of God. Our service is not mindless repetition of physical functions as robots. It is the freewill decision to obey God. We know both the costs and benefits. We choose to accept the responsibility and are blessed. LOVE –– Life is a sacrifice. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Victory is guaranteed in Christ. Everybody responds to love.
Every Christian no doubt is familiar with 1 Samuel 15:22b. “… to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (KJV) Most often in our lives obedience is the result of punishment, or at least the fear of punishment, but it should be the result of a love for righteousness. The delight of parents is seeing their children respond to the love they share. Punishment is a last resort. Which of us is not pleased seeing our children respond to the sound of our voice and not the back of our hand? God takes great pleasure in our obedience. He is more pleased with obedience than He is with multiple sacrifices. (1 Samuel 15:22)
Knowing the right action to take in the varied situations of life is the byproduct of a relationship with God. Taking the appropriate action in these situations is the mark of maturity. Our human relationships are cultivated and grow form the time we invest. The love we share, and energy we pour into them fertilizes and strengthens each relationship. Mature personal relationships with God are established in the same way. We invest time in the study of His word. We share love with God as well as fellowship with other believers, and we expend effort in ministry to our communities. God is glorified and pleased by what we do. (Proverbs 21:3)
Finding time to serve the Lord can be a challenge. We are a busy people living in an on-the-go society. It is not uncommon to work a sixty-hour week and still not finish the tasks facing us on the work front. Add to that the responsibilities of home, family, and church; anyone would agree we are busy, but are we busy doing the right things? (Romans 6:16)
Love always acts appropriately. The service we offer, the ministry we involve ourselves with, and the generosity we share, is proof of God’s hand at work in our lives. The goal of everything we do is, or should be, that our lives bring glory to God. Sometimes we forget why we serve, but scripture always offers us hope and timely reminders. God is honored by our faithful obedience and service. Today take time to examine your service and reflect upon the ways it has glorified God. If you find yourself lacking in any area, simply seek forgiveness, get up and begin to walk in the victory of a life of sacrifice. The Bible is true and you can be faithful. (2 Corinthians 9:13)
Do the words of the hymn, “Victory In Jesus” ring true in our lives? We have been plunged to victory through His redeeming blood. God protects us. God provides for us, and facing the storms of life we have assurance of victory through the word of God. (Psalm 18:35)
According to Psalm 18:35, God has bent down to help us become great. When will we take God at His word and walk in the authority and victory He promises? God pushes back our enemies just as he did for the children of Israel. Too often we trust our own ability more than we do the Word of God. The strength we have and the weapons we possess cannot and will not guarantee us victory, but the presence of God in our lives does. The power of the Holy Spirit is the fullest guarantee.
I am trained as a teacher. I spent several years as a substitute. Every day was a different group of students, different grade level, and different subject. As a result of those experiences I can “wing it” in front of a classroom. Yet, God requires our dependence upon Him –– not our own ability. (Psalm 44:3-7)
God is at work in our lives. We are able to LOVE because He shows us the way. We are victorious as long as we abide in the shelter of His presence. LOVE — Life as a sacrifice. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Victory is guaranteed in Christ. Everybody responds to love. (Psalm 60:12)
As we recognize what God has already done we build up faith to see Him do even greater things in our lives. Shouts of joy can be heard in the homes of the righteous. God has done mighty things in our lives. Share the greatness of God with all who will listen. (Psalm 118:15)
LOVE –– Life is a sacrifice. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Victory is guaranteed in Christ. Everybody responds to love. Christ was our example in love. He set aside His glory, became flesh, endured the death on the cross, and opened the door for our relationship with God. Everyone regardless of age, culture, education, or any other factor we can recognize, and responds to love. Responding to love is natural.
Jesus expressed the depth of His love in John 15:13. He identified us as friends and said that we were worth dying for even before any of us existed. That should have a profound effect on us. God in His holiness counted us in our sin worth the price of salvation. (John 15:13)
Not that we could in any way take the place of Christ, but do we count others worth the cost of our time and energy? We simply point the way to God and attempt to demonstrate by example the fullness of His love and forgiveness. (1John 4:10)
There is a season of judgment coming; however, it is our responsibility to be witnesses while there is time! We are witnesses of the love, faithfulness, and life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (John 12:30-32)