Yesterday we said that when we truly worship something, it affects the way we live; because we give a full-life response to the object of our worship. It’s been laid upon my heart today to look at the fruit of our true and proper worship: “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.” (Rom 12:1)
Paul urges us to recognize that God has shown us enormous mercy, described in detail earlier in this letter. The hymn in the previous four verses (Rom 11:33-36) made it clear that God owes us nothing. Instead of death, though, He has given us life and purpose in Christ. He has forgiven our sins and shared with us the riches of His glory. We deserved none of that. How should we respond?
Paul writes that as the Jewish people offered killed animals as sacrifices to God, Christians should instead offer ourselves, our bodies, to Him as living sacrifices. In other words, the only rational response to God’s mercy in giving us eternal life is to give Him our lives as a sacrifice to use for His purposes right now. As living sacrifices, God has already set us apart for His purposes and declared us acceptable because He sees us in our position in Christ. This life of worship, then, is the appropriate response to the mercy God has already given to us.
In order to have the true and proper worship of offering ourselves as living sacrifices for His purposes, we must set aside our prideful desires to make room for what He wants for us. “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.” (Rom 12:2)
The word “world” is often used in the New Testament to refer to the “world system,” or the way that every human being lives by default. John described this worldly way of living as “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (1 Jn 2:16). By instinct, all of us chase those things in pursuit of happiness and meaning from our sinful nature.
Paul tells us to abandon the chase for pleasure, possessions, and status—to stop living like everyone else. Instead, he urges us to be transformed from the inside out. Specifically, he writes that we must be changed in how we think, to have our minds renewed so that we can begin to understand God’s will for our lives. In another epistle, it’s written: “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24)
God urges us to learn how to look at life with a new question: What does God want for me? What is truly a good, acceptable, and perfect use of my life for His purposes and not just for my own? Are my actions and speech seen as a full-life response of true and proper worship to our merciful Lord who has gifted me with grace undeserved? If not, Lord, please show me what You want me to lay down at Your feet.