Romans 12:1-2 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer 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.
Paul helps us see in the rest of chapter 12 that becoming a Living Sacrifice will require an internal devotion which will lead a person to put that devotion into motion.
Internal Devotion-Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:11-12
Paul listed four ways we can devote ourselves to our spiritual development:
Fuel your spiritual fire to serve the Lord. When I read Romans 12:11, I hear Paul say, “Throw another log on the fire. Fan into flame your spiritual passion.” Our walk with the Lord is a relationship which will grow or die depending upon our investment just like any relationship would. The more wood you throw on a fire, the hotter it becomes and the longer it will burn.
Paul goes on in verse 12 to say we should be Joyful in hope. People who are hopeful live with a spirit of anticipation. They believe something good is going to happen. Believers, we don’t need to walk around with a defeated mind and a defeated mouth. What we think and what we say needs to be filled with hope. We can live with expectation. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God not only has a future for us, but that He has a plan to give us hope. Hope is a by-product of a passionate relationship with Jesus. If you will keep throwing logs on your spiritual fire you will have the hope you need to live each day with joy, but if you live disconnected from God you will live disconnected from your hope.
Romans 12:12 goes on to say we can learn to be patient in affliction. People who live with this mindset determine that Something good is being worked in and through their trials. The good things God has for us come to us not only in spite of our trials, but sometimes they come as a direct result of our trials. Romans 8:28 tells us that God is never asleep at the wheel as He directs the affairs of our lives. He is always working out a plan that is for our good. People who are Living Sacrifices don’t hold God to their timetable. They let Him govern and guide in His time.
One final thought on this idea of internal devotion. Romans 12:12 finishes by saying we need to be faithful in prayer. People who live with this internal devotion believe Someone is there to help them through it all. Prayer connects us with the presence of God. He is that Someone. When we are living with the awareness that God is with us, we know that He will see us through no matter what. Sometimes He will coach us. Sometimes He will correct us. Sometimes He will carry us, and at all times He will care for and cover us. This is the assurance we have when we pray. If you are distressed and stressed by life’s challenges, you need to throw another log on the fire through the element of prayer.
As we move on through the rest of Romans 12, we see that our internal devotion is supposed to become Devotion in Motion. In the rest of this chapter I see three external evidences of an internal commitment to be a Living Sacrifice.
Romans 12:13 tells us to “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Paul says that sharing and hospitality are hallmarks of people who are living sacrifices. Paul isn’t just talking about the giving of our resources, although, I would say that is step one and needs to be a regular and consistent practice for believers, but he wants us to know that generosity and sharing also extends to the way we share our lives, to the way we befriend people, to the concern we show for them as we are hospitable toward other people.
Another evidence of this devotion in motion is the outward expression of caring. Paul put it this way in verse 15: 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Living in such a way that demonstrates that we care for people is vital for their emotional and spiritual well-being. That is how they know we see them. That is how they know they matter to God and to us.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
This verse speaks volumes to me about caring for others. If I am going to live in harmony with other people that means I am not going to have an argumentative spirit. It means I won’t have a critical spirit. It means I won’t try to pick fights or make it my aim to win them when they do happen. It means I am going to look for ways to get along with people. Listen, it doesn’t really matter to me why a person is where they are or what they have done to contribute to their broken situation. What matters to me is where Jesus wants to take them, and as I help care for them, my commitment is to help them get there.
Lastly, I would suggest to you that another way we express devotion in motion is that we refuse to do war the way the world does.
We must embrace a kind of warfare that is spiritual and not carnal. Living Sacrifices don’t seek to “fight fire with fire.” Living Sacrifices don’t seek to get revenge or to get even. Living Sacrifices suppress the natural instinct to haul off and hit someone or to cuss someone out or to talk badly about people. Living Sacrifices don’t give people the silent treatment and cut them out of our lives just because… Living Sacrifices don’t go on social media and “Vague Book” about someone who did them wrong. You know what Vague Booking is, don’t you? It’s when someone goes on social media and talks horribly about someone, without giving their name, just to put that person in their place and to get everyone else who is reading the post to wonder who it is so that they will private message them to get the scoop, giving the hurt and offended person another opportunity to vent and gain support for their pain. Those are the ways the world wages war. That isn’t our method of operation, church. Well, it isn’t supposed to be.
Look at verses 14 and 17ff:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As we war, believers, we have to keep the end goal in sight. It was stated in verse 18. Here it is again in case you missed it: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
You see, Living Sacrifices are people who have been transformed to help transform others and to transform the world in which we live.
Internal devotion and external devotion in motion. We will never routinely do what Christ wants us to do until we intentionally become like Jesus. He was a Living Sacrifice. I believe God is calling us to throw another log on the fire.