October 2005 Calendar Article
Our Theme for 2005:
Living for Jesus
Living for Jesus Sacrificially
—By Chuck Huffine
“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. 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” (Romans 12:1-2).
The call to be a living sacrifice may seem at first to be a contradiction, since we usually think of a sacrifice as dead, not living. However, we need to remember that we are not sacrificing for the purpose of making peace with God. Only Jesus can do that. The only blood sacrifice that can atone for our sins is the blood of Jesus, for “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). Since that sacrifice has been made, Paul says we are to offer ourselves as a different kind of sacrifice; not a blood sacrifice, but a living sacrifice: “We count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).
Isn’t this the only kind of sacrifice that God is pleased with? Even in the Old Testament, God showed His heart in this. David wrote, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17). God did not want burnt offerings; more than anything else he wanted a heart that is devoted to him. A person who is contrite is dependent on God for His grace and for His help. This is the only kind of sacrifice that we can offer to God and hope to please Him with.
Combine this with Paul’s call to renew our minds and we can see that this is a devotion that requires all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. The latter chapters of the book of Romans give us some very practical ways that we can be living sacrifices to God. Romans 12 tells us how to live and work together in the body (the church). It tells us to put other people before ourselves, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, live in harmony with one another. It tells us to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Isn’t this the way that Jesus lived? He was a blessing to everyone he came into contact with, because he put them before himself.
Romans 13 tells us to submit to the governing authorities, give everyone what you owe him. More than anything else, we must continue paying the debt of love to one another, put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (13:1, 7, 8, 12). As living sacrifices, it is important that we respect those around us and that we walk in the light, living a life that is consistent with the righteousness that Christ has given us.
Romans 14 tells us to accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is understand someone whose struggles are different from our own. It is imperative for us to accept and love those whose doctrine, culture, race and social position are different from our own.
Romans 15 tells us that rather than pleasing ourselves, we are to bear with the failings of the weak. Paul reminds us that Christ didn’t please himself, but he took our suffering upon himself. To put a brother’s needs before our own needs requires quite a sacrifice on our part, but if we bring praise to Christ by doing so it is well worth it.
To live sacrificially for Jesus is to live like Jesus did. He didn’t live for himself. He lived for others, he became a servant and we are called to do the same thing. “Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3:5). By doing this, we free the Holy Spirit to rule in our lives and we become a living sacrifice that is useful in God’s kingdom.