August 17, 2017
“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.” Romans 12:1.That’s quite a challenge. When we accept Christ we know that our sin has been forgiven and our souls are acceptable for eternity with God. What about our life here on earth? Is the way we live our life acceptable to God? The way we conduct our life from day to day is important. The above verse admonishes us to present our body as a living sacrifice. This isn’t a call to be a martyr. A martyr is a person who’s killed for his or her faith in Jesus Christ. A living sacrifice means that we live daily in a manner that honors our Lord. We turn away from the temptations that come our way instead of giving in. We make choices in life that are based on “what would Jesus do” instead of “what’s in it for me”.
One step in being a living sacrifice is to be humble and not puff ourselves up in order to gain recognition from people. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3. Paul wrote this letter to Christians and urged them (and us) to not let self-importance get in the way of serving Christ. Each person in the body of Christ is important and nobody is more important than anyone else. Pride is a very self-centered attitude and gets in the way of living for Christ. As Christians, we must understand that the women who organize charitable events are as important to the body of Christ as the man who preaches to the congregation. We all have abilities and gifts which need to be used to help brothers and sisters in their own walk with the Lord. “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5. We are all one in the Lord. When you do what you can for the whole body of Christ then you’re being a living sacrifice and giving a reasonable service to the Lord.
Our love towards fellow Christians should be sincere. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:9-10. Most congregations get together on Sunday, sometimes on Wednesday, and once in awhile for a potluck. Other than that we go our separate ways and blend in with the non-Christian world around us. We seldom abhor evil and usually see no problem in having friends who aren’t Christians. As long as it’s not on Sunday morning we join them in their ungodly activities rather than abhorring the evil, non-Christian activities they espouse. On the other hand, our love for our fellow Christians is often times hypocritical. We smile and say kind words on Sunday mornings, but come Monday we couldn’t care less about their troubles. Recently I’ve been having some medical problems and some dear Christian friends who live many miles from me have shown true Christian love in my time of need and their kindness is a living sacrifice. Too often we forget that we are admonished to care for our fellow Christians with the love that Christ showed to us.
The way we conduct our daily lives is an indication as to whether we are dying to self or not…whether we are a living sacrifice for Christ. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Romans 12:11-13. There are many Scriptures translated in the King James Version which can be misunderstood simply because the language has changed over the years. The phrase “not slothful in business” is better translated “not lagging in diligence” (NKJV) or “do not lag in zeal” (NET). Paul exhorted the Christians in Rome to have joy in their salvation and extend that joy to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Every Christian has troubles (King James says tribulation) in their life. Sometimes we can’t physically help, but we can always pray. I have dear friends I pray for who are dealing with illness in their family, facing the death of a spouse, going through marital troubles, and making decisions as to a career that will honor God. How is prayer a living sacrifice? Thoughts are taken captive and moved from worldly thoughts to focus on the needs of fellow Christians and turning to God for His provision. This is true of all the exhortations in the above passage. Are you patient when troubles come your way? Do you see the needs of fellow Christians and help as you can? Hospitality takes time and effort on your part, but by welcoming others to your home for dinner or Bible study you’re giving yourself as a living sacrifice.
One of the most difficult sacrifices we make is mercy towards others. “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” Romans 12:14. Human nature wants revenge upon someone who has done us wrong, but when you think of the mercy God has shown you and the blessings He gives so abundantly, then it’s understandable why Christians should bless someone who has persecuted us. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19. How God deals with a person is up to His perfect love. How many times have you been shown mercy when you deserve vengeance? Jesus gave His life so all who accept His sacrifice can be saved…He doesn’t want anyone to perish. Be a living sacrifice and let go of the desire for revenge upon someone and maybe you can turn an enemy into a brother or sister in Christ.
“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.“ Romans 12:17. Is that easy? No, but when living for Christ that’s a sacrifice we should make for His glory. It’s easier to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:15. It’s easier unless we allow jealousy to make us desire what others are rejoicing over. If a friend gets a promotion that you wanted, do you rejoice with them? Let’s reverse that. What if you get a promotion that your friend really wanted, can you weep with them or do you gloat? When we live for Christ we die to our own selfish interests and care about others. The way we handle various situations is an example of Christ’s love. Other people watch us and if they can see Christ living through us we can strengthen the walk of fellow Christians, or we can be God’s instrument to lead someone to salvation. Let the Holy Spirit guide all your actions.
As Christians, we need to be unified. There are many denominations and each one focuses on a different aspect of God’s word. Some focus on the spiritual gifts while others look more to legalism and structure in worship. Should one look down upon the other? “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” Romans 12:16. Rich or poor liberal or conservative we are all one in Christ. You shouldn’t view it as a sacrifice to mingle with fellow Christians who aren’t of the same denomination or “social status” as you because in God’s eyes we’re equal. Sacrifice arrogance and conceit and live for Christ. This will bring peace among the brethren. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18. Be a living sacrifice.
Do Christians have enemies? Yes, and it’s easy for us to want our enemies to suffer. That’s not an attitude for a Christian to embrace. Doing good for someone who has persecuted you is a sacrifice we all have to make. “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Romans 12:20. When we see our enemy in need, we need to sacrifice our feeling of victory over their plight. Before you became a Christian you were an enemy of God, but He still provided for you. You had air to breath, water to drink, and so on. God has provided for the needs of our enemy so how can we say we follow Christ if we choose to ignore the needs of others, even the needs of our enemy? “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21. Until the final battle there will always be evil in the world. Satan has already lost, but he’s in denial. There’s no love in him, only hatred. Our only defense is Jesus Christ. By choosing to be a living sacrifice we choose to do good no matter how others treat us. What’s directed towards us that’s meant for evil can be used for good if we make the choice to follow Jesus in all we do.
As we grow in our walk with the Lord, there should be changes that are evident for all to see. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2. If we conform to the world we deny Christ. The word “transformed” means to change into another form. We become new when we accept Christ and have a fresh start in life. Worldly attitudes should be done away with. This change won’t take place if you continue in your sin. Your sin has been forgiven, but that doesn’t give you the license to continue sinning. If you’re conformed to the world you aren’t transformed by Jesus. Examine your life and see if you’ve become a living sacrifice for Jesus, or if you’re still dead in your sin. If you haven’t truly accepted Christ for salvation, then you’re still dead in sin. If you have truly accepted Him, then start making choices that reflect your love and appreciation for what Jesus did for you on the cross.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8. Christ died for you so the very least you can do is be a living sacrifice for Him.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html