A morning Wake Up Call devotional this week focused on Romans 12:1-2
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. Do not conform 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.
People may view a “living sacrifice” as an oxymoron. I would have considered it that way but for having been schooled by the Holy Spirit on multiple occasions about “sacrificial” life.
One was in regard to a difficult coworker who made my life quite miserable. After multiple situations in which she appeared intent on showing me up, putting me down, or calling my work into question with leadership, even though I had several years’ seniority on her and my work was good. One day driving home from yet another difficult event shared with her I prayed, asking God how to deal with her. God was very firm, though hardly explicit….”Sacrifice.” It took nearly a week of more prayer to begin to gain a sense of how and what God meant. Then I knew. I was to make a sacrifice of my time and resources for her sake, to bring blessings on her. I set about being a “secret pal”, sending her cards of encouragement and small gifts that I knew would please her, based on my knowledge of her home and beloved pets.
One cannot live with intentionality to bless and sacrifice time, prayers, and resources on behalf of another and continue viewing that person as an antagonist, enemy, or thorn in the flesh.
Our career paths eventually parted and I never saw her again. And though we parted still not on friendly terms, I now felt compassion for her and truly wanted God to bless her. She never knew I’d been the one behind the blessings.
Years later I struggled with some emotions from family hurts, I prayed, asking God why I had felt unloved and disregarded and less important to someone than others in our family seemed to be. This time God was very prompt, succinct, and unequivocatingly clear, “Affirmation is not love. Sacrifice is love.”. I knew in that instant the individual whose love I had questioned for years had made sacrifices for me and others, to give us what we needed even when I felt that I didn’t get what I wanted in attention, resources, praise, time, etc. I felt God’s gentleness in the correction and at the same time the sting of my selfish demands through the years. God’s timing was perfect and His reward after having struggled with these feelings for years was the greatest blessing I could have received in that moment.
I had to experience living sactificially on behalf of another before I was able to see how others had lived sacrificially for me.
God Himself lived sacrificially for me through Jesus, as well, becoming like us. He set aside aspects of His Own Self, was dependent on others when young….. additionally,He experienced their lack of understanding of Him later, and even more….He made difficult choices for the sake of others, did without comforts, conveniences, and even endured betrayal and suffering in death still desiring God’s glory and others’ gain.
“Living sacrifice” really isn’t such an oxymoron. It’s the little acts of selfless love and sacrifice day in and day out of one’s own desires and will for the sake of God’s glory and others’ gain, even though the results of such acts we may never see. But knowing that Jesus Christ and others have already done it for us, led by and given strength and grace sufficient for the task by God’s Holy Spirit, and learning that this is our “true and proper worship” offered out of gratitude and love.
“The offering of your life itself can only happen “by the mercies of God.” It is his mercy that saves us and it is his mercy that enables and empowers us to offer ourselves back to him. We are moving in the realm of the power of God here, which means we are moving in the realm of faith, which means we are moving in the realm of divine relationship.”. JD (7/4/23)
It gives meaning and insight to the biblical phrases “sacrifice of praise” and “sacrifice of thanksgiving”….. Our bodies, a living sacrifice …… “our true and proper worship…..” – all of who we are, individually and collectively as kingdom of God people.