Growing up, one of my youth pastors challenged us to memorize Romans 12:1-2. While I knew of the verses, the week I spent memorizing them remodeled my mindset. It opened up a whole new set of possibilities and dreams. It made waking up every day brighter.
Does that sound like a lot for just two verses to accomplish? It is. But it’s also possible. Why? The power of God’s Spirit is in these words. Let’s examine them and then let them examine us.
When a verse begins with therefore, it’s always good practice so ask what it is there for (a simple but good practice;)). Paul just finished explaining how blessed we are that God has had such great mercy and love to count us in his family because of Christ. Now because of his great love, Paul says, let’s give him everything we are and have, even though it means personal sacrifice.
The concept of sacrifice is unpopular in our culture. We’re told to get what’s ours and push for more. We’re told comfort should be king and if we aren’t comfortable, then something is toxic in our life and we should move on. But here in God’s trustworthy word we are told that each day is our opportunity to bring all we are before the Lord in loving, thankful sacrifice. To clarify, I’m not saying our lives are supposed to be miserable. Scripture is full of verses that remind us that following the Lord is the path to joy, peace, blessings and more.
So how do these two concepts come together in our lives? How does sacrificing our lives lead to more abundant lives? This is a minor and limited example, but bear with me. As I memorized that verse for youth group growing up, I had started to realize I was missing out on something special. When I was growing up I was the least athletic person in my large family. They were not just good athletes, they were gold medal winning, disciplined, scholarship athletes. Now, being far more into art, books and music (and candy) I could really care less until we’d play sports. Then it mattered because I was slow and uncoordinated. I started to realize that in order to enjoy those times with my siblings, I’d have to be more disciplined about exercise and nutrition.
So even though I knew that this verse related to my relationship with the Lord more than anything else, I did see that I had the ability to also apply it to my life in other smaller ways. My parents were excited to see I was finally willing to apply myself to something physical and my dad and I started running together a few times a week. I didn’t plan on turning around and winning medals, because I have different goals (even though I am immensely proud of my siblings). But I did start to sacrifice a little time to exercise and eating (a little) less candy. I sacrificed the time and snacks because it increased my joy to keep up with them. I sacrificed sleeping in a little more to start running. By doing that, I even now still enjoy running with my family in 5Ks. Some of my siblings and I did a half marathon a few years ago. While I was still the slowest in our crew, we had such an amazing time together I didn’t care.
While this little story falls short of the greater purpose of sacrificing our lives for the Lord, I hope it helped explain the duality of the concept. As we present our lives to God in living sacrifice, we participate with him in more real and active ways. He can use us more. We can enjoy him more. Above everything else, we grow into a deeper relationship with him.
Friends, we were made for a rich relationship with a Creator who loves us deeply. Nothing is more fulfilling in life than this. As we understand him better, less important things in life will fall to the wayside to reveal his divinely beautiful purpose each day.
How about you? Has there been something you had to sacrifice or know you need to in order to step more fully into God's calling for your life? Let us know below, we'd love to connect with and pray for you!