"And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a holy and living sacrifice - the kind He will accept." Romans 12:1
Roman 12:1 is a much quoted, memorized, preached and taught upon Scripture. Yet what does it really mean for you and me? How fully do we live it out? Indeed, how willing are we to live it out? In a culture that offers an endless multitude of idols for us to live for, how do we live for Him with all of our hearts?
The idea of a sacrificial offering to Him is very alien to our modern, western mindset. It was not to Paul. That which was offered to Him on His altar was given to Him completely. It was fully His and no longer theirs. This was so no matter how precious the offering was to them. When the offering left their hands, it was placed in His. And that was where it remained. His altar was holy and sacred. That which was placed upon it became so as well. The offering was freely given to Him, and it was received by Him in all fullness. It is still so today.....for those who hear and answer Paul's plea.
So...what does it mean then to live, to walk as a holy sacrifice to Him? Just what does that look like for you and me? One of the best and simplest answers to that is found in something I heard Sheila Walsh say; that it is a matter of "handing all of ourselves in all things, over and over again to Him." Think on all the things that affect our lives....the great and the small. Somehow, it seems easier to us to give Him the thing that crushes us, yet hold back the smaller weights that the enemy convinces us we can handle ourselves. Those we hold onto, and as the weight of them grows all the greater, we reach a place where we can't go on. The load of all the small things turns out to be more destructive that what we thought was the greatest need. Instead of handing them to Him, we grip them with all our strength. Relationships, or the lack of one. Financial need, loneliness, the sins and failures of the past, fear of the future. Whether great or small, He commands us to bring them to Him, He who is the Altar, and hand them to Him, nothing held back, in trust....in surrender.
In my life, I have discovered the great cost of not handing all things over to Him, most especially as concerns my ministry, but in relationships, attitudes, frustrations, and yes, hopes and dreams as well. As someone put it, whatever it is we let live today, will return even stronger against us tomorrow. So many things about my life and ministry were being held in my hands, and not yielded up to His....and they lived on...to my great harm. Only when I came to that place, and still come to that place, where I hand over everything....over and over again, do I find the peace, joy, and strength that He makes mine. That He will also make yours. And in the doing, you, we, discover what it is to be living sacrifice, made holy not by what we do, but by what He has done, and continues to do in us.
What things, great or small, weigh you down today? What is it that you continue to hold on to, that you can't hand over to Him?
James Robison said that he once heard the Lord speak to his heart concerning an issue that he couldn't bring himself to surrender to Him. The Father asked him, "If you can't entrust it to Me, who will you entrust it to?" He asks us the same question; if we cannot take and give the thing(s) to Him, who will we give them to? Who will you give them to?