What I find compelling about Jesus’ life and teaching is that he doesn’t ask us to do anything he didn’t do himself.
In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, this is your spiritual act of worship
This scripture has always been troubling for me, no matter what the state of my spiritual health-in highs and in lows-I come away with deep conviction and a quickened heart beat. Questions plague me as if I’m helpless prey:
>Am I a living sacrifice?
>What, exactly, does it mean to sacrifice?
>Am I holding back by holding on to something?
>Is my worship spiritual or ritual?
As I have reflected on this scripture and several others, here is what I have seen:
A SACRIFICE IS ALWAYS SURRENDERED
At the core, a sacrifice is an offering that’s willingly OFFERED to God. Forced sacrifice is oppression. We must choose to give up ownership and all the rights and privileges associated with the gift we surrender to God.
A SACRIFICE IS ALWAYS PERSONAL
We cannot give away something we do not possess. God requires OUR BODIES as a sacrifice. In the past, he required an animal that was personal property. God calls us to give out of what we have personally earned.
A SACRIFICE IS ALWAYS VALUABLE
Without worth, a sacrifice carries little meaning and power. Giving something you don’t really want is little more than dropping off your junk at the thrift store. Your body is a good thing. The money you earn is good. God called Abraham to give up Isaac. These offerings were good, gifts from God. A true sacrifice always carries with it a piece of our heart.
A SACRIFICE IS ALWAYS A TEST OF FAITH
Sacrifice isn’t just discipline, it is more. Discipline means doing what you don’t naturally want to do. Many people are disciplined to work out regularly and eat well. This kind of self control yields predictable results, it is a safe hope. Sacrifice is discipline that doesn’t know the outcome. I’ll trust God and surrender, but I don’t what he’ll do. I will be good, but it is also unknown. Sacrifice is a dangerous hope.
A SACRIFICE IS ALWAYS REVEALING
One of the exciting things about a sacrifice is that it reveals our motives and desires. It shows us who we are, revealing our character. Our sacrifices reveal our true hopes. They are a test of the heart because it is impossible for a person to sacrifice for what we know to be a lie. Sacrifice banishes impulsiveness for it forces us to ask, “now why am I giving this up?” The heart is a complicated place, and sacrificing helps to untangle the confusion.
A SACRIFICE IS AUTHENTIC
At the core, it’s impossible for a sacrifice to be fake. When the offering is made, it is given to God. And he is the one that judges motives, he is the one to whom everything is laid bare. We lie to ourselves and others, but we cannot lie to God.