“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy . . .” Paul starts Romans 12 off by calling us to remember what He did for us. In view of His death on the cross. In view of the fact that you are saved only because He made a way. In view of the fact that He came into your life simply because you asked. You know, in view of God’s mercy! In view of that, offer your bodies as living sacrifices . . . Whoa! Is He saying that we can sacrifice our bodies for Him? How do we do that?
In the old testament they used to sacrifice animals. In order to be “clean”, one had to sacrifice a bull, lamb, dove . . . there were all sorts of different sacrifices they could make for all sorts of different reasons. The interesting thing to me was, it “smelled” good to God. It was an “aroma pleasing to Him” (Genesis 8:21) I guess it was like me going by someone’s house grilling hamburgers, it just makes me want one! The sacrifices they made created a specific smell that pleased the Lord. If that’s the case and now we are encouraged to be a living sacrifice, what does your life smell like?
Right after I first got saved, for a while, many parts of my life stunk. I’m not saying I was miserable or anything. I just did pretty much anything and everything that I wanted to do with no real regard for what God wanted me to do. For example, when I was around a certain group of people, I would cuss. I didn’t cuss around my parents, I didn’t cuss around the people at my church, but when I got around these certain people, I cussed. I didn’t “sacrifice” my need to “fit in” with that crowd. In view of God’s mercy, I could have and should have. God would often poke my spirit and tell me to stop, but I just ignored Him and kept right on . . . I couldn’t have my “friends” thinking I was a wimp, could I?
When I first got my job as a teacher, I stunk. I don’t think I was necessarily a lousy teacher: I just kind of “showed up.” Meaning, I just kind of mimicked the way other teachers had taught me when I was in school and eagerly awaited that last bell to ring. I didn’t really have a purpose. I got to where I didn’t even like teaching and thought I had made a big mistake going into the profession. My attitude stunk . . . and I wondered why God seemed so far away.
Today, I quickly recognize that I am a light in a very dark world. If you’ve been saved, you are too! I love to hang around a group of guys that are trash mouthing. I love to be in the car with the guys that ooooh and ahhhh over the college girls jogging around the college campus. You know, all I have to do is NOT join them. It usually isn’t long until they realize that there is something different about me. When the opportunity arises, I tell them about how the Lord has blessed me since I stopped talking like that. I tell them how He blessed me with a killer wife and I have no need to gawk at young ladies. I tell them just how awesome God is!
When I go to work, I don’t have any grand plans to “preach” to students in my class. I certainly don‘t do “altar calls“ and force Jesus on them. However, I make sure I put on an attitude of WORK! I prepare, then execute what I’ve prepared to the best of my ability. I never sit down, I never display a bad attitude (wellllllll, 19 out of 20 days :), I refuse to complain, and I always remind myself that I am God’s representative . . . I’m trying to point people towards Him. I sacrifice my want to play on the internet at work, my want to just sit around and kill time, my want to complain because it’s Monday, and my want to take out my frustrations on the students, basically I refuse to do these things even when I “feel” like doing them. It’s not long at all until kids quickly realize that I’m “different.” Somehow, it smells good to them, too!
Think about ways YOU can be a living sacrifice to the Lord. What would you have to change? What would you have to start doing? What would you have to stop doing? God is watching. People that NEED Him are watching, too! What are you doing to make Him attractive?
If I smell burgers on a grill, I’m going to travel in that direction and pray that it‘s someone I know, or at least someone open to getting to know me. If God smells you purposefully representing HIM well, purposefully being a “living sacrifice,” you’ll find that He’s NEVER far away! In fact, He might just be heading in your direction.
Lord, I read this WMD that I wrote 11 years ago. It had to be one of the first ones I’ve ever written. I wonder how much of my zeal for You that I have lost. I wonder how much I did for You back then that I don’t do now. I wonder how many times since then that I have not been that living sacrifice. Help me to realize just how short my time is here on this planet. Help me to not waste any breaths. I want with all my heart to point others toward You. Thank You for the many opportunities that You have given me to pray with others to receive You into their lives. What a difference You make! Help me to honor the greatest commandment: to love You with all my heart, mind, and strength. I can’t do it on my own. But I can humble myself. I can pray. I can seek Your face and turn from my wicked ways. Now, please hear from heaven. Now please forgive my sin; and begin to heal this land. I love You, Lord! I give my life to You this day . . . a living sacrifice! Amen