What do you imagine when you hear the word sacrifice? For some, it brings to mind noble acts, people giving of themselves for a greater cause.
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
To Paul’s audience, the word sacrifice may have brought to mind something a bit, well, messier than the thought of a noble act. Animal sacrifice was not a foreign concept to the Romans, nor to the Jews of first century Palestine. Sacrifice meant death to Paul’s contemporary audience of Romans.
However, Paul calls them and us to be a living sacrifice. What does that mean? While I’m no biblical scholar, I have my own interpretation of this phrase. Most of the sacrifices of the time involved killing or destroying something to please the gods. This is also true of the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Once a sacrifice was made, it was gone—dead, so to speak (and in many cases, quite literally). While these sacrifices had to be repeated, once an individual sacrifice was done, it was done. You didn’t have to worry about taking it back or about it being undone. You couldn’t change your mind, even if you wanted to.
On the other hand, with living sacrifices, it’s not so simple. It’s not one-and-done but a continual process. We have to wake up each morning and remind ourselves (and perhaps throughout the day) that we are holy, set apart by God, and must live holy lives.
In other words, we have to make the decision every day to be the best version of ourselves, offering our best to the Lord.
So, what does offering our best look like? Of course, it involves living in a way that is pleasing to God, according to his Word and his will for our lives. It also means not copying “the customs of this world.” That could be chasing worldly things—like greed, lust, pride, or ambition—instead of God.
It could also be pretending to be better than we are.
Here’s the thing: offering the best of ourselves does not mean being perfect, and it certainly doesn’t mean pretending we are perfect. Part of offering the best of ourselves is realizing the worst in ourselves, our shortcomings and faults. When we acknowledge these weaknesses instead of thinking we are better than we are, we become more aware of where we need to be careful and where we need help from others. Not only that, we also give God a chance to shine through us, giving us the wisdom, strength, courage, etc. that we don’t have on our own. Because, in the end, we can’t change ourselves—only God can transform us into new people and change the way we think. After all, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God’s power “works best in weakness.”
Do you feel you are offering your best to God most days, or do you feel you often fall short? Remember, offering your best does not mean being perfect or acting like you’re perfect.
In what ways do you feel you may be conforming to the ways of the world?
Complete these statements to help identify areas of strength and weakness.
You get the best of me when…
You get the worst of me when…
Write a reminder (a verse quotation, personal note, etc.) to offer your best to God. Place it somewhere that you will see it every morning.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the sacrifice you gave to save us, and for the rich, fulfilling lives you offer us through a life with you. In light of all your blessings, it only makes sense to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to you. Although we cannot transform ourselves, we can pursue you – please, help us to do so every day with renewed vigor. Help us to not hide our flaws, but instead to admit them openly, so that others may see how you are working within us and shining through us. May your will be done in our lives. Amen.
This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton Lechner is a college grad currently working at her local library. In her spare time, she volunteers as an ESL teacher and freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.
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