TRUE AND PROPER WORSHIP
Lord, use your Word today to command me and comfort me. I need your direction as well as your consolation.
Read Romans 12:1–8
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, 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. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectLay your plans for this day and the week ahead before the Lord. Ask God what he might want to reshape, underline or add to your living sacrifice this week.
In Romans 12:1,2, Paul challenges us to remember all that he’s been teaching throughout his letter (‘in view of God’s mercy’), even as he calls us to respond in worship. That worship is a living sacrifice – living because it’s the offering of our whole selves, the meaning of ‘bodies’ in verse 1. Key to that offering is the challenge to refuse to be shaped any longer by the world. Here, the sense is of actively resisting external pressure, while choosing to be transformed internally by God’s mercy. As verse 2 is part of the same sentence in Paul’s original writing, we need to recognize they’re tightly bound together: our living sacrifice cannot be pleasing to God without our being transformed in this way.
Our living sacrifice also requires a right humility. We mustn’t reach for a calling or a gift that isn’t ours, but recognize how we fit together with others in the whole that is Christ’s body. The tone of the adverbs (generously, diligently, cheerfully) reminds us that our service must always be wholehearted.
For such an individualistic culture as ours, it’s noteworthy that Paul anchors our living sacrifice within the body of the church: this is something we must do for ourselves, absolutely, yet it’s something we cannot do alone.
Where are you feeling the greatest external pressure? Ask God to help you resist.
Patient Father, I am not what I was, nor am I as I ought to be. Continue to make me and mold me in your image I pray.
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