The Living Sacrifice

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

 

Isaiah 51:1-6
Psalm 138
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worshipESV The first word in the Greek is parakaleo, meaning beseech, call for, exhort, intreat, pray. The second word is oun meaning but, now then, so, therefore, verily, wherefore. The I is understood in the Greek but not stated.

In the first eleven chapters Paul talked a good deal about living a righteous live. Now in chapter 12 he opens with a therefore. That is often taken in the NT as moving to another idea, but that is not at all what Paul does. Actually, he ups the stakes, expands the concept, moves to a new plane.

Here is Peterson’s opening sentence in his paraphrase version. So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offeringMSG Don’t miss what Paul means here. Everything you have, are, or will be goes to God. Hold NOTHING back.

Why should we do that? Because God held nothing back. He watched his own Son descend into Hell to battle Death and the Devil. When we failed God, He saved us with His mercies. By God’s example we show mercy when we help people who do not deserve our help.

I have mentioned before how poorly American Christians are at giving money where it is most needed, but let’s forget that for now.

Have I gone to school with the idea of making more money or the idea of helping people who need help? Have I taken a job that involves honest labor at honest pay? Does my work also help people, or at least not hurt them? Is my leisure time improving me physically, mentally, and spiritually? Do I always ask myself, WWJD?

In our sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life, is all of it done for God?

Writing in the Third Century, Origen had this to say. Paul says that the sacrifice is living because it has eternal life in it, which is ChristACCS Writing in the Fourth Century, Ambrosiaster added, For now it is no longer the case that bodies are sacrificed for bodies, but instead of bodies it is the sins of the body which must be put to deathACCS

Easier said than done but we must work at the goal of purity. Why? Because God and His Son are pure and we are invited to join with that purity.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else;

if you help, just help, don’t take over;

if you teach, stick to your teaching;

if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy;

if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate;

if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond;

if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your faceMSG

 If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfullyNIV

It can be discouraging to read all of this and think, I can’t do it. Remember, you are only one part of the body of Christ. The kneecap is not an overly exciting body part but without it we would not walk very well. Don’t let others bully you into leading or teaching if that is not your God given skill set. Do what you do best even if it is only one thing. All of us can do small things in several of the categories listed while concentrating in the one area of our skill.

Perhaps you are the appendix. No one really knows what it does in the human body but if that is you be the best appendix you can be. God loves you no matter what.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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