Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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
Today’s Devotional was written by: Tim Grounds
Growing up in a very conservative church of Christ, I was taught that in order to please God, one must worship God exactly according to the instructions laid out in the New Testament. The sermons I heard on this subject all started with the famous quote by Jesus in John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” The lessons that followed would then go on to describe worship as acts that were to be performed on Sunday morning somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00. This time of worship was—and still is—called a “worship service.” I was instructed that these acts of worship—and there were exactly five, by the way—were extremely important. So important were these acts of worship that other religious groups who didn’t worship the same way were not even considered true Christians.
Then one day while reading Romans 12:1–2, a light came on in my head. Could it be that the worship God really wants is not a ceremony observed on the first day of the week? Is it possible that what Jesus was talking about in John 4:24 was something more than five acts performed according to some divine pattern? Yes! This amazing scripture tells us that what God wants, desires, and considers true worship is the sacrifice of ourselves. It involves the sacrifice of our will, our pride and our desires. If we live the way we want, we will be conformed to this world, but this does not please God. He wants us to be different—like His Son Jesus was different.
In order to resist conformity to the world we must make sacrifices. We must sacrifice those things that are most dear and precious to us—our will, our pride, our wants and desires. Until these sacrifices are made, we will never be able to embark on our journey to be transformed into the image of God. This is what God wants and what pleases Him the most. This is our spiritual worship that Jesus was talking about in John 4. How can I be so sure? Consider this: If you were to read the four Gospels and paid close attention to the teachings of Jesus, what you would notice is that He NEVER taught on the importance of performing a ceremony as worship to God. What He DID teach, was a change in the way we live and treat other people. This is the truth revealed in Romans 12:1–2, which is why it is so special to me.
Read this verse in context: Psalm 103:1-22
So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. 2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.
3 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. 4 We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. 5 In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. 6 We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. 7 If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. 8 If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.
9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12 Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16 Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17 Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.
18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. 19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord.[a] 20 Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head.[b] 21 Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.
Common English Bible (CEB)
Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible