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 worship. — Romans 12:1, ESV
I read this verse in my time with Jesus this morning. The thing is that I have read this verse often. This is not a new verse, but a very familiar one to me. And yet God had something to remind me of that was so profound I wanted to share it with you.
1. It is all because of his mercy. Romans 9–11 are 2 of the deepest theological chapters in the Bible (in my humble opinion of course). Paul finishes Chapter 11 with these words: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?' 'Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen."
After that declaration of the majesty and glory of God, Paul then begins to teach about what our response to that God should be. And the first thing that he must remind us of is that anything that we do in response to the greatness of God can only be done because of the mercies of God. The fact that I'm even alive to write these words down is only because of God's mercy. It all comes to God's mercy, always.
2. I have a responsibility. Scripture teaches me here in this verse that I am to present my body as a living sacrifice. This is not something that I sit around and wait for Jesus to do. Rather, it is something that I am to do. I am to present a sacrifice, which is myself, to God. The thing about a sacrifice is that it costs something. In fact, I am convinced of this: if a sacrifice cost you nothing, than it is not a sacrifice.
3. The sacrifice is for God. I do not get to come before God with a sacrifice that is based upon my personal preference or level of comfortability. It is not acceptable to give God leftovers and claim that we are giving him our best because we would rather serve the god of laziness or convenience instead of the God of the universe. We cannot forget that anything that is given as a sacrifice to Jesus should be given in a manner that is worthy of Jesus, not in a manner worship of me. A “good enough” sacrifice is truly no sacrifice.
4. This is worship. Worship is more than singing a song. Worship is an all-encompassing life-style dedicated as a living sacrifice to Jesus. It includes singing songs to Jesus, spending time with him in his word, praying to him, practicing the spiritual disciplines, etc... But it also includes my everyday life. How I love my wife and my boys should be done in a manner that is worthy of Jesus. How hard I work should be a sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable to him. How I greet my neighbors. How I love my friends. How I love my enemies. How I pray for my persecutors. How I reach out to the broken and the needy. How well I treat the server at any restaurant that I go to for dinner. It is all worship. It is all done as an act of worship to God who is worthy of my best.
It's all worship. Every bit of it. And he deserves our best.