Romans 12:1 -- "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."
What does that mean for us as we serve?
1. We are set apart to God.
Holy means "set apart." In 1 Peter 1:16, God says, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." God is altogether different than we are, separate and perfect. When we offer ourselves to God, we should do so in a way that demonstrates that we, likewise, have been set apart for our holy master. Serving in the church is more than a volunteer activity. It's more than giving blood at the Red Cross or serving soup at a shelter, as significant as those can be. How do you view your serving in the church? Do you think of it the same way you do your job or your homework or your other responsibilities? Or do you remember that you are involved in a holy activity, set apart to a holy God.
2. We should act godly.
When God calls us to holiness, he specifically calls us to separate ourselves from our worldly passions and to live in a manner worthy of the gospel. Service that is worship to God will be defined by godly motives, godly means, and godly results. Picture a perfect serving Sunday morning... As you come to church you are grateful for God's grace and you are ready to do anything to see his gospel proclaimed and his name glorified. You serve with joy and passion, loving others in your heart and in your deeds. You excel in your role because you're serving where you're gifted, and everything comes off without a single error. No one thanks you, but that doesn't matter because when you've done your job well, no one knows you're there. Finally, you thank God, who actually did it all through you. You recognize your insignificance and the honor it is to be used by your Savior. You leave even more grateful for God's grace.
3. We need Jesus.
So, your serving doesn't always resemble that description? Neither does mine! That's why we need a Savior. And here's the final point: although we should always be striving to grow in serving to God's glory, we will ultimately fall short. On our best days, our motives are mixed, our interactions with others are tinged with selfishness, our minds are quick to snag the recognition that God deserves, our hearts are slow to give it back. If we are to be living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, we need to rest on the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Savior.
One of my favorite verse is Hebrews 10:12-14: "But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." Even in the midst of the long and arduous process of sanctification, we have this assurance: Christ has completed the work necessary to perfect us for all time. We can be holy and acceptable to God through Jesus' blood. Praise be to our Savior!
Thoughts for Application
Our actions and words are the evidence of what is in our hearts. Even if we agree with what Scripture says about us and the way we should serve, what we do demonstrates what we really believe. If there are areas of your serving life that do not match up with what was written in the second point, you can know that God is at work. He's pointing out your deficiencies not because he wants to discourage you but because he wants to change you. Here are some suggestions on how to work with him in that change process:
- Ask God to forgive you for the sin areas that surround your serving.
- Believe that God has forgiven you through the death of Jesus Christ.
- Thank him for sending his son and saving your soul.
- Ask God to continue to reveal your sin to you.
- Ask God to show you how to obey him and what it looks like to serve in holiness.
- Dig into God's word to learn how to attack the root sin related to this serving sin.
- Ask people around you, "How can I grow in this area of my life?"
- Take the first step toward change.
Questions for Discussion
- What is the area from point two where you would like to grow most?
- What is the root sin associated with that area of growth?
- What does the Bible say about that sin?
- What can you do to join God in putting it to death?
- Are you convinced that Jesus' death is the only way you can be acceptable before God?