“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
If you have spent enough time in the church during your life, chances are you’ve encountered this verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans. With vibrant imagery and a clear message, Romans 12:1 represents an easy verse to memorize and even more, one to live prayerfully on a daily basis. Every day, we all have opportunities to live sacrificially, to think of others as better than ourselves.
But what does it mean to be a living sacrifice?
Rooted in Old Testament tradition, blood sacrifice represented a crucial component of God’s covenant with Israel. An animal, first born and blameless, becomes representative of the sins of its people. The shedding of innocent blood washes away the sins of Israel and allows the community of people to live in good standing with God.
This sacrifice, then, becomes significant when Jesus Christ dies on the cross for the sins of humanity. In Christ, we see the sacrificial lamb that has taken the sins of the world upon him and through resurrection tramples death back into the grave.
When Paul suggests that the Romans present their bodies as living sacrifices, he isn’t suggesting a mere spiritual platitude, as in a modern setting where we should live sacrificially and give up coffee for Lent. Instead, Paul references sacrifice to call to mind the history of Israel and their use of sacrifice. The lamb sacrificed before God was physical perfect and blameless. So too, should we be blameless in our physical work, actions, and activities.
Spiritual and Physical Sacrifice
As you consider again the important call Paul places on our lives to live sacrificially, remember the importance of sacrifice in God’s story. Sacrifice ties the spiritual with the physical. The covenant required blood. Now Paul shifts the language to suggest a living sacrifice. Our covenant requires action and what better place to act than in the daily activities of our work.
Where can you live sacrificially in your work?
In what ways can you become holy and acceptable to God through your work?
How can you experience spiritual worship through your work?
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