“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. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:1-8
Paul is calling God’s people to do the almost unthinkable in our world today: offer your whole self to God, and live for Him and others, not yourself. This message is hardly preached in any culture today; even a self-sacrificing society is not necessarily inspired by God’s honor. But the way of God’s children stands apart from the world, and Paul gives practical instruction and example.
This way of living begins with relinquishing the self: body on the altar, mind renewed and transformed by the Spirit. This must be a deliberate surrender, a laying down and taking on that is consistently practiced, and it requires a proper, sober view of self and of God’s position and sovereign authority. Who I am, what I am capable of doing, is all ordained and gifted by God Almighty Whose body He designed and cherishes. The same is true for others; therefore, I am not to criticize or diminish another’s capabilities or role. We are all needed, and all contribute to the proper functioning of His plans.
Having offered my body, including all its energies, tastes, and determinations, and having taken on the renewed mind with a goal to edify and complement my siblings in Christ, do I recognize, accept, and appreciate what God has bestowed? Do I intentionally hone His gifts of grace, not yielding to sloth, or coveting another’s? How generously, how effectively, am I exercising them within the body? Are my days begun by what I want to do, or by asking the Lord where He would have me serve? What needs to change so I heartily, enthusiastically, zealously, with glad abandon, live out the role God has scripted for me, for the encouragement of His people and building of His kingdom?
Father, it is by Your mercies we live. In gratitude, and for Your perfect use, I open my hands, lay down my life, offer my body and my gifts for Your praise and glorious purposes.