A LIVING SACRIFICE
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.
God takes great pleasure in worthy sacrifices. In the Old Testament He gave detailed instructions for the way His people were to give their offerings, declaring that these brought “an aroma pleasing” to Him (Lev. 1:13,17). When the Israelites gave an offering to God, it was no longer their own; it belonged entirely to God. God would accept only the best that people could give. Offering animals that were damaged or imperfect in any way was an affront to Almighty God.
A worthy sacrifice had to cost the people something. As their hearts shifted away from God, the people began struggling with the command to give God costly offerings. Instead, they brought blind, lame, and sick animals, assuming God couldn’t tell the difference (see Mal. 1:8). God saw what they were doing and declared their offerings to be in vain (v. 10).
Throughout the Old Testament period God was setting the stage for the ultimate, perfect, and sinless sacrifice of His Son for the sins of humanity. God Himself met the standard for sacrifices when He offered His own Son as the spotless Lamb. Only the death of His perfect Son was an offering worthy enough to atone for the sins of humankind. God’s love moved Him to sacrifice what meant the most to Him—His only Son.
Our response, if we truly understand His love for us, is the desire to give back to God what means the most to us. Now God asks us to lay down our lives on His altar as living sacrifices (see Rom. 12:1). Just as in the Old Testament, our sacrifice, once offered, can’t be reclaimed. We belong entirely to God. We can’t make a partial sacrifice of our lives; our offering must be wholehearted.
Therefore, if you’re a Christian, your life isn’t your own. Rather than dying, however, God asks you to live for Him as a living sacrifice. Every day you’re to offer your life to Him for His service. You don’t serve Him in your spare time or with your leftover resources. The way you live your life for God is your offering to Him. Relentlessly pursue holiness so that your offering to God is unblemished and acceptable to Him (see Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thess. 2:12).
The offerings we give to God reveal the condition of our heart. A heart that overflows with gratitude for God’s love responds in selfless devotion. If we’re unwilling to sacrifice our time, our possessions, our money, or our energy, we indicate that we don’t fully love God. God takes delight in someone who cheerfully gives to Him from a loving heart, someone who understands that God is the source of everything he has and who knows God will more than compensate for whatever is sacrificed for Him (see 2 Cor. 9:8). If you struggle in giving your best offerings to God, pause and reflect on what God sacrificed for you. Trust Him and give Him the best you have because you love Him with all your heart.
What’s been the most significant sacrifice in your life? How did God prove more satisfying than whatever you sacrificed?
Based on your life experiences and in your own words, what does it mean to be a living sacrifice in general? What specific adjustments do you need to make to live in wholehearted gratitude for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice?
What do you value most? How can you completely trust Jesus with that?
What was the most meaningful statement or Scripture you read today?
Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response to God.
What does God want you to do in response to today’s study? [Henry T. Blackaby, Richard Blackaby (2014). Seven Realities for Experiencing God – Member Book. LifeWay Press. Retrieved from https://read.lifeway.com]