I realise I haven’t shared my memory verses from last week and this but it never seemed the right day. Today, however, is the right day and I’m going to talk a bit about last week’s verse. Confused? I hope you won’t stay that way. The two verses are actually Romans 12:1-2 verse 1 last week and verse 2 this.
12 Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.
They are, I assume, familiar to most of us who follow Jesus. They’re often quoted and I tend to mangle a bit of NIV/KJV and this translation when I practice them. I thought about that and decided so long as the verse still has the same intrinsic meaning then it doesn’t matter really if I say ‘pleasing to God’ or ‘that brings Him pleasure.’ Please comment if you disagree.
The real difficulty I had was with the last three words: reasonable, essential worship, well not worship but reasonable and essential. No matter how many times I repeated the final phrase they didn’t stick so I started to think about it and ask why.
Reasonable – using my trusty Blue Letter translation I took a look at this word. Logical, rational, the greek word (λογικός – logikós) only occurs twice in the New Testament: here and in 1 Peter 2:2 where it is translated as ‘of the Word.’ or ‘spiritual’. The word is obviously the root of logical which can mean: making sense or natural and sensible given the circumstances. So Paul is saying giving our bodies to God for His purpose is common sense when we see all He has done for us.
Essential – absolutely necessary, extremely important, basic. Basic, the bottom line, the thing other things are built on, the essence, the starting point. Paul is saying we should offer our bodies to God because this is the first, most basic worship we can offer. Ultimately all I have is myself to offer; when everything else is gone I am all that is left.
Most sacrifices in the Bible ended up dead. The definition of a sacrifice is an offering that is killed to please or placate a deity and there are many examples of sacrifices offered in the Bible either slain or burnt or poured out. Paul says a living sacrifice though which seems contradictory until I realise that sacrifice doesn’t have to mean death it can mean dedicated, committed to God, consecrated to Him.
So Paul is urging me to offer myself, all of myself, to God as a living sacrifice as someone completely devoted to what God wants and desires, to doing the things that please Him. This isn’t something to boast about; this is a basic common sense thing to do when I think about everything He has done for me.
I said I struggled with those two words and was asking why. I suspect it’s because I don’t understand that it is basic and it is absolute common sense to give myself completely to God. There’s part of me that thinks I can go my own way some of the time and part of me that thinks devoting time to God deserves a pat on the back or a reward.
Reasonable and essential – on to verse 2 which I think will help with that mindset.