Readings for the Day
Proverbs 16-18, Romans 12
Verses for the Day
A Living Sacrifice
12 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. 2 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.
In my opinion there is not a better set of verses than these to explain what the Christian life looks like. When Paul says, "therefore", he is saying, "in light of everything I have explained to you up to this point do this." It is the "So What" question he is answering.
Important he starts out by saying, "in view of God's mercy". Our motivation for living the Christian life is a response to the great act of mercy and grace God gave us through Jesus. As a pastor for twenty years I know you cannot cajole, control or guilt someone into living an authentic Christian life. The only true power for the "inside out" transformation in our lives is grace. Grace is the fuel for the Christian life. Our faith journey begins and ends with grace.
And yet we know we can respond to God's grace in very specific ways. God does not transform us without our offering ourselves to Him. This is what we call worship. Paul says, "Train yourselves to be godly". Peter says, "Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ". And so Paul gives us to ways to give ourselves back to God in way that leads to our transformation to become more like Jesus. It is not passive, rather active.
Paul says two very specific things. First he says, "Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice." This is unlike the Old Testament where lambs were offered as a sacrifice by putting them to death. Since Jesus made the once and for all sacrifice on the cross, a living sacrifice is something day by day we offer to God. Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. We need to take care of and nurture a healthy body, which God can use.
Second he says, "Don't be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Before we make any choice it starts with a thought that comes from our mind. And we know whatever we set out minds on will eventually become our focus. If our thoughts are continually on what the world values, we will inevitably be conformed into its mold. But if we keep our thoughts and meditation on God's Word, we can have the mind of Christ in all we do.
So we can see God loved us, He saved us, and He has plans to transform us into the image of His Son. The only question is will we allow God to do this? Remember the verse says, "be transformed", not "transform yourselves". Only God can change a human heart. As we offer our bodies and minds back to The Lord, and allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out, we can become the type of men and women who God can use to change the world. Remember grace is opposed to "earning" not "effort". In view of God's mercy and grace offer yourselves to God today.