Sunday, February 1, 2015

Grace and sacrifice

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what the will of God is— what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." Romans 12:1-3 (NRSV)

The first part of this scripture passage can be rather scary to a new Christian who is learning about how to lead a Christian life. Paul’s admonishment to present ourselves as living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God sounds almost as if we are to quit doing everything we enjoy and spend our entire lives sacrificing all of our time to God.

It is the second part of this passage that puts the first part into perspective. Paul says that by the grace given to him, he says to each person not to think of themselves more highly than they should. It is not our acts or our sacrifice that is important, and we should never think that when we pursue a holy life, it is our works that makes us holy.

In verse 1, Paul’s little phrase, “by the mercies of God” is actually the crux of the passage. It is through God’s mercy and grace that our meager sacrifices are pleasing to Him. Yes, we can strive to live holy lives, but we will never accomplish it. Our holy lives start and end with God. He chooses to view each of us as holy, “each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

We strive to be holy for God, not for ourselves or for others. We must keep our eyes on God as we strive to be holy, and not be sneaking sideways glances at other Christian’s behaviors. Our sacrifices to God are all different, and only He has the power to view each offering as holy. Praise God for grace!