Let’s get right down to it. The Bible says about itself that it divides soul and spirit like the medical profession might divide bone and marrow. It goes on to say that it judges the heart and attitudes of all that we do (Hebrews 4:12). With that in mind, let’s look at our Verse of the Day from Bible.com.
1 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.
The term that Paul uses here ‘living sacrifice’ is the meat of this statement. He is referring back to the sacrifices given to the Lord under Mosaic law. There were many mandatory and some voluntary offerings or sacrifices made to the Lord for different things. They were all to honor God for His forgiveness and goodness bestowed upon the people. These are the same reasons we are to continue to praise Him and honor Him today. But we no longer offer sacrifices of animals, but Paul calls us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.
The strange thing about this phrase is that an animal sacrificed ceased to live. That was the point of the sacrifice. They were killed and their life is given to the Lord to honor Him. As a living sacrifice, we are to give ourselves completely, not in death, but in life to the Lord. When an animal was sacrificed under Mosaic law, their whole life was given. Under the New Covenant of grace, we must give ourselves completely to God. We must lose our life for Him as Jesus said (Matthew 16:25). But what does this mean? Are we all supposed to enroll in the seminary? Are we all supposed to quit our jobs and stay home and pray every day? Should we do nothing but sing praises to God all day long from the middle of our living room? What is a living sacrifice?
To give myself to the Lord, as a sacrifice, it doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun anymore. It doesn’t mean that I have to become a priest, a pastor, a bishop. It doesn’t mean I have to quit my job so I can memorize the Bible or stand on the corner downtown and preach. It means that I give my life for His mission. Jesus said that He had come not to judge the world, but to save it (John 3:17). And He called us to go and preach to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). We should live our life each day looking for opportunities to share the love of God with others, to teach the ways of God, and to encourage people to take the way of God. But this alone does not mean that we are offering ourselves as ‘living sacrifices.’
We must also do it all for the Lord. It is easy when we see the Lord work through us to begin to think highly of ourselves. A preacher can see the response and think, “Look at how good of a preacher I am.” In this case, this preacher might be doing the right things, but for the wrong reasons. He is not offering his body as a living sacrifice.
I remember once preaching at a retreat for teenagers. It was going so incredibly well. These teenagers were really responding to my messages. The altars were full. They were in deep prayer. They were repenting and turning their life to the Lord. I was preaching twice a day to them on this retreat. Between messages, I would get off on my own to pray and prepare for the next message. And I remember an encounter with the Holy Spirit. He called me out as I sat there. “You’re feeling pretty good about yourself, aren’cha?” (The Holy Spirit uses a Texas accent when He speaks to me.) My first response was, “Well, yeah I guess.” It took me a second because the Holy Spirit was more in tune with me and my motives than I was in tune with myself.
To me, I was doing the Lord’s work, but He questioned my attitude. The Holy Spirit helped me to see that I was responding to the work He was doing through me and in those teenagers as if I was doing it all on my own. I was getting the big head! And my head is already naturally humongous so I didn’t really need any extra arrogance enlarging it any more than it already was. But that was what I was doing. He reminded me that no preacher ever has an original thought, nor are any words a preacher speaks His own. All sermons are borrowed at best or plagiarized at worst from the Holy Spirit. He teaches then we repeat. Our attitude is to be the same as Christ (Philippians 2:5), but when people were amazed at His teachings, He responded by glorifying the Father (John 8:28).
A living sacrifice does not serve the Lord then expect recognition nor glory. When we feel our chest puffing out a bit when someone tells you how much they appreciate what you have done for them, you may not be offering yourself to God. In fact, you may be your own god. When you do something for the Lord, then people aren’t appreciative, and you are angry, you are not having the attitude of a living sacrifice.
When must live for the Lord, but as we do, let’s take inventory and make sure the good He works through us hasn’t created the attitude that we are more than what we really are. We are servants. We are sacrifices. We are not God. We can’t do anything, but the Holy Spirit working through us can do all things. When we serve Him without expectation of appreciation then we are having the attitude of a living sacrifice.
I gave you an example of how I let things get to my head and the Holy Spirit had to knock me down a notch or two. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been around someone who has become arrogant in doing the work of the Lord? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear about it.
Also, if you are wondering what advice the Bible might have for you in a certain situation, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will get back with you some Biblical thought to help you take the next step.
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!