Podcast available at: https://anchor.fm/diane-simcox/episodes/Jesus-Paid-it-All–All-to-Him-I-Owe-e1bvf3j
Romans 12:1 – 16 Week Fifteen
When you think of Jesus and sacrifice, what comes to mind? Most of us immediately picture the cross, the crown of thorns, the beatings and betrayals. We don’t often think of His birth as a sacrificial act, but wasn’t it?
Think for a moment if you were asked to leave your home today. You can’t take anything with you. You’re going to have to leave your comfortable home where everything is perfect, literally perfect. There is no sin, no hate, no tears, no cobwebs, no dust or leaky toilets. Nothing bad. You have to leave behind the One Who is Your Father, the only One Who understands You and knows You. But you choose to willingly leave Your safe place and go to a place that is dirty, sinful and threatening, and sad. Not only that but you also choose to go to this place not as a strong, independent man but rather as a helpless, dependent infant. You choose to go knowing full well that you will not be accepted by your own, you’ll be mocked, ridiculed, taunted, trapped, and eventually tortured. To choose this journey would be a major sacrifice. Would you agree?
If we stop and think of the sacrifice that Jesus made starting in Bethlehem, it’s quite humbling, isn’t it? And that was just the beginning.
Any good relationship expert would tell you that a healthy relationship involves sacrifice from both parties. But there’s something kind of harsh and jolting about that word “sacrifice”. We aren’t so quick to offer up something that we might consider to be a sacrifice. We tend to define sacrifices in relationships as completely dismissing what we want to do so that our partner gets to do what they want to do. We don’t like to sacrifice our weekends, our free time, or our sleep for example. We call those types of things sacrifices, but they’re more inconveniences.
When two people are in a deep and committed relationship, they both sacrifice not only for each other, but they sacrifice for the health of the relationship. We make sacrifices with our energy, attention, time, resources, and feelings. Whether it’s with your spouse, a sibling, a child, or a friend, if you have a healthy relationship, both parties should be making sacrifices.
So then here’s the question you’re probably expecting. What are you sacrificing for your relationship with Jesus?
Paul brings to light how we need to be contributing to our relationship and what sacrifices need to be made.
Romans 12:1 TLB “And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.”
What are ways we can give our bodies to God? Our physical bodies are imperfect. Some are overweight, some are underweight. Some are blemished with scars and age spots. Some bodies come with a limp in their walk, stooped shoulders, or ugly feet. None of us fit the criteria for the Old Testament sacrifices. As the Israelites were told to sacrifice to God, they were instructed to bring forth animals who were clean, flawless, and unblemished. Does anybody here fit that description? Sorry, but none of you do. So what does Paul mean by giving our bodies to God?
Paul describes this as our bodies being living sacrifices. In other words, how we live our lives; our lifestyles, our behavior. What we eat, what we drink, what we read, what we watch. Where we go. What we say. Who we spend our time with.
Romans 12:3 TLB “As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. 4-5 Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.”
Have you noticed that when one part of your body isn’t working the way it should, other parts of your body start to suffer? When one part isn’t contributing like it should, other parts of the body have to compensate, but it’s not the same. Take for example if you break your ankle. Your foot is placed into a cast or a boot. You’re told to stay off of it for a period of time; not to put any weight on it. So you’re either going to hop around on the good foot which is probably not ideal for any of us or you’ll have to use crutches or a little scooter. That means that you now have to use your hands and arms in ways that they’re not used to in order to take steps. That one foot being out of commission puts a strain on the good foot as well as other parts of your body. The same is true for the body of Christ. We all have responsibilities and functions and if we are not doing our part, the rest of us suffer.
Not being an active member or a reliable member of a life group or church family can cause suffering. Not reaching out and praying for others can cause hard feelings or feelings of abandonment. Being careless with your words and not being considerate can cause separation. Not showing mercy or grace can result in bitterness and division. We must be diligent in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit to spring into action in order to fulfill our purpose within the body of Christ.
Has the Holy Spirit laid on your heart something you need to sacrifice for the sake of your relationship with Jesus? It may be sacrificing 30 extra minutes in the bed in the mornings or evenings so that you can study and spend time with God? Are you being called to sacrifice grace to those whom you feel don’t deserve it? Do you sense the Holy Spirit impressing upon you to sacrifice a hard-headed opinion about something that’s causing division among your brothers and sisters in Christ? Because we are supposed to be growing, shedding our old selves, and becoming more Christ-like, that requires us to continually make sacrifices in our life.
I want you to take a moment and pray silently for God to speak clearly about what He wants you to sacrifice for the sake of your relationship with Him. I encourage you to write it down and date it. Tuck it away somewhere or leave it in plain view if you so choose. This doesn’t have to be shared with anyone or, if you want an accountability partner, tell someone you trust. Either way, commit yourself to this sacrifice each day until it becomes a habit. As Paul says, “When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
Making that kind of a commitment of sacrifice isn’t to be taken lightly. If we are to sacrifice ourselves and our earthly desires so that we are acceptable to Him, would He not give us something to fill those voids?
Romans 12:6 TLB “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, then prophesy whenever you can—as often as your faith is strong enough to receive a message from God. 7 If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If you are a preacher, see to it that your sermons are strong and helpful. If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it. If God has given you administrative ability and put you in charge of the work of others, take the responsibility seriously. Those who offer comfort to the sorrowing should do so with Christian cheer.”
Paul is referring to spiritual gifts. As children of God, we’re not only given the gift of salvation but He also equips us or gifts us with certain talents. Do you know what your spiritual gift is? Some people spend their lives trying to exercise a spiritual gift they’ve not been given and as a result, they fail to recognize the true gift God intends for them to use. For example, I’ve witnessed several people who claimed to have the gift of prophecy and they spend all of their energy trying to convince people that they are gifted in that area when it’s obvious to others that they are not. In fact, I’ve seen damage come about because of their false claim that God blessed them with the gift of prophecy. Our spiritual gifts are given in order to benefit each other; not to misdirect, mislead or discourage.
Not everyone needs to preach. Everybody can’t be a leader. Some people are just not great at being encouragers. And every person doesn’t need to be in the choir. Think of Barney Fife. Do you remember the episode of the Andy Griffith Show when Barney is in the choir and he’s singing out so loudly that his flat notes are ruining the entire rehearsal? Barney wants to sing, has a passion to sing so therefore he thinks he CAN sing; but he can’t. He’s not gifted with a singing voice and so it causes a disruption. We tend to be a little like Barney Fife in that we pursue our desired spiritual gift rather than sacrificing ourselves to whatever gift the Holy Spirit chooses for us. It’s not a random assignment. The Holy Spirit isn’t spinning a wheel or drawing slips of paper out of a hat to determine what we are gifted with. It’s all very purposeful because He knows us through and through. He’s not going to give us a spiritual gift that isn’t perfect for us individually and corporately.
I remember one year my great aunt brought in our Christmas presents. As she handed me the one with my name on it, I could tell it was a pair of shoes of some kind. She was always pretty cool about buying things that she knew we would love so I was super excited about opening the gift. Sure enough, it was a shoebox with Converse printed on the lid. That wouldn’t have been my first choice. This was during the time when Candie’s slip-on sandals were most popular so I had kind of expected to be strutting around on my fine-looking high heels by Christmas afternoon. But since I didn’t own a pair of Chuck Taylor’s Converse, I was prepared to strut around in those. But as I opened the box and stared down at the men’s size 13 black Converse shoes, I was confused and quite disappointed. The shoes were of no use to me; my feet weren’t big enough to fill those shoes. My brother who loved Converse shoes and who happened to wear a men’s size 13 was just as equally disappointed to open his box to find a pair of furry slippers that looked like monkeys that were obviously way too small for his feet. Due to a mistake on my great aunt’s part, the gifts that were initially given to us didn’t fit us. They were of no use to us. But the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit assigns to us are perfect and well-suited for us.
1 Peter 4:10 NET “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.”
There are three verbs in that sentence. Receive, use, and serve. All three verbs require us to sacrifice ourselves in some way.
If you don’t know what spiritual gift has been given to you, what steps are you taking to discover it? Are you content with not knowing your spiritual gift or not using it to serve Him? Sadly, many Christians don’t pursue that avenue. It’s the parable of the talents. A rich man doles out different amounts of his wealth to servants and is disappointed that one of the servants did absolutely nothing with it. The man didn’t steal the money, he didn’t squander it or do anything other than burying it. But the rich man deems the man unfaithful and takes away the small amount given to him.
“How many of you are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow? How many of you, when you bow before your Heavenly Father in your family circle or in your secret places, contend for these gifts to be bestowed upon you? How many of you ask the Father in the name of Jesus to manifest Himself to you through these powers and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling upon the subject, without exercising any faith whatever, content to be baptized and be members of the Church and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this? I say to you, in the name of the Lord, as one of His servants, that you have need to repent of this. You have need to repent of your hardness of heart, of your indifference and of your carelessness.”
You have a gift, at least one, that has been given to you for the sole purpose of using it for His glory, His service, His kingdom. Using this gift requires a sacrifice on your part in some way. Are you willing? Even if you’re presently sacrificing portions of your life to Him, is there not something else He’s calling on you to give up? We were created to experience true and pure satisfaction when we sacrifice ourselves to Him. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Listen, it’s not easy to sacrifice – that’s why it’s called a sacrifice.
“If you ever have to sacrifice something good, have faith that God will reward you with something GREAT!” – Rita Zahara
- To find out your spiritual gift(s), take this online test. http://www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift/