OFFERING OUR LIVES AS LIVING SACRIFICE TO GOD
P. Samuel Manoharam
Romans 12:1says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” This is a great exhortation to us, to present every part of our body a living sacrifice, for God’s glory. The Lord wants us to offer all of ourselves and all of our lives. This is His will for us which we should carry out as His followers. Living for ourselves is nothing but utter selfishness which the Lord hates. He wants us to live only for Him. This is an important biblical teaching, for us to keep in mind all the time, to live as dedicated and consecrated Christians.
Any service without sacrifice brings no results, no achievement and no victory worth the name. This means, if we keep our life, we will lose it. If we lose our life in loving service, we will make it a real blessing to others. No great thing can be done easily, without cost and without sacrifice. To be consumed in God’s work as ‘a living sacrifice’ means burning up and burning out like a candle, which grows shorter, becoming gradually weaker. This is the true symbol of the consecrated Christian life. The burning candle gives light to others by being consumed, thereby giving up our lives to God who loved us and still loves us so much. God wants us to consecrate our lives to glorify Him. Our very lives would be the means of magnifying Him and we can offer our bodies, as a living sacrifice to Him. This will lift Him up to others through our daily sacrificial living.
How Do We Do It?
We offer our time. Our time is our most valuable possession. We need to give God all our time. This does not mean we spend all of it in prayer, meditation, Bible study and church activities. What this means is we allow God’s priorities to be first attended to in our lives. It is easy to get our priorities wrong. Our number one priority is our relationship with God. We need to set aside time to be alone with Him. We also need to set aside time to be with other Christians, so that we can encourage one another in fellowship as God desires.
C.T. Studd beautifully said, “Only one life, it will soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.” What a great inspiration to all of us! The Bible reminds us that our days are as grass. They are filled with tiny golden minutes, with eternity in them. We are therefore exhorted to redeem and utilise our time on earth glorifying God, because the days are evil. Everything which happens to us in this world, prior to death, is a preparation for our eternal life. So how valuable our time is!
We have to offer our desires and ambitions first to God, saying to Him, “Lord, I entrust all my desires and ambitions to You and hand them over to You for guiding me.”It is because God asks us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness as our foremost desire and ambition, for Him to meet all our needs as promised by Him (Matt.6:33).So our motivation in doing everything should be seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness in our life for His glory.
We need to offer Him our possessions, our money. Although there is no ban on us from owning property, making money, saving or even enjoying the good things of life, what is forbidden is selfish accumulation for ourselves, leading to unhealthy obsession with material things and putting our trust in riches, which will lead us away from God. We should cultivate the habit of generous giving, for the needs of others around us, in response to the generosity of God towards us. We should practise this good habit to please God. It is the best way to break the hold of materialism in our lives.
We need to give God our ears to whatever He says and stop listening to ungodly gossip which wastes God-given time. Instead, we need to attune our ears to hearing what God is saying to us in our meditations on the Bible and through prayer and good Christian books, magazines and so on.
We need to offer him our eyes. Some things we look at can harm us, creating lust in us, which is sin. There are things which we should see that can lead us closer to God. We should therefore try to discern what is good and what is bad, and choose only what gives glory to God.
We need to give Him our mouths. The Apostle James reminds us what a powerful instrument the tongue is (Jas.3:5-10). How often we use our tongues to destroy, to deceive, to curse, to gossip or to draw attention to ourselves! How well can we use our tongues to worship God, and to encourage others for their Christian growth?
We need to offer God our hands. We can use them in practical acts of service to help others. This can be done by writing inspiring messages to edify others and to encourage and comfort them in their distress and loneliness, strengthening them spiritually through faith in God, in order to move closer to Him.
We can glorify God by our feet, by visiting people, spending time with them, nurturing them through our life’s testimonies and prayers, elevating them spiritually.
We can glorify God by our hearts, to express our love and gratitude to Him, through prayer and meditation.
We can offer God our intellect, our will and our all.
Our human body is an earthly tent. From this tent, we will go to dwell in our eternal heavenly home, to be with Jesus for ever. We are merely pilgrims and strangers on this earth. We should keep this in mind.
By this way, God’s kingdom comes to body, soul and spirit, making our faith dynamic, through the Holy Spirit, and making us effective witnesses for His glory.
Service to God in any sphere of activity to glorify Him is a costly service. This alone touches the very heart of God and pleases Him. Hudson Taylor’s life is a role model for us. His was a great sacrificial life, with so much spiritual power in it. It was a tremendous blessing to so many during his life time and is still a blessing to many of us. There were, in fact, many such servants of God in earlier times, to inspire and guide us in our Christian service.
There is no point in talking about the consecrated life, unless one gives himself as a living sacrifice and unless actually God is all in what he does for Christ, in Christian service. Most of the difficulties in trying to live the Christian life arise from not trying to live it with our hearts fully in it. John Calvin said, “I gave up all to Christ, and what have I found? I have found everything in Christ!” How inspiring it is!
The above message of consecration is gloriously reflected in the beautiful Christian hymn by Frances Havergal, asking God to:
Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store:
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all, for Thee.
There will be a cost in doing all these. It may involve much sacrifice. As William Barclay put it, “Jesus came not to make life easy, but to make men great.” So we have to be prepared to go God’s way and not ours. We have to be willing to give up anything in our lives which we know is wrong and put things right, to get right with God.
We should be willing to live a true Christian life in this world that is mostly hostile to the Christian faith. In many parts of the world, being a Christian involves physical and mental persecution. Many Christians have died for their faith in earlier times. We are now in a free world. We are privileged to live in a society where Christians are not so much persecuted like in earlier times. The criticism that we mostly receive is hardly worth mentioning, compared to the suffering of the early church. We have to thank God for all this.
Are we witnessing to the reality of God’s presence, God’s love and God’s power in our own lives? Let us ponder as serious-minded Christians.