Friday, April 4, 2014

Body Language

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable,
which is your spiritual service of worship.

Romans 12:1

Are these hands offering something or asking for something? I could make a good case for both.  Isn't it interesting that the same physical position can mean two complete different things?  So how can you tell which it is?  You have to look at the heart of the person whose hands are outstretched.

I could probably make a good case that often times when our hands our offering the Lord something, we're actually still taking from Him.  If I give to Him, He's obligated to bless me, right?  If I serve Him here, He will "show up in a big way."  If I obey, He'll return the favor.

Heart issue.

God is not, as my husband so eloquently stated, our magic genie who in return for obedience grants our wishes.  He is not obligated by our works to do anything.  He doesn't instruct as a test before He blesses.  And He definitely knows the difference between worship and manipulation.

So let's take this verse apart:
  • urge - to compel, force or push through begging and imploring to move to some action
  • brethren - fellow believers in Christ
  • mercies of God - the compassions and favors shown to the enemies of the Almighty Creator
  • present - to offer, give or submit
  • bodies - the vehicle of your soul, life and being
  • living - active, thriving, vigorous, strong
  • holy - set apart for the service of God
  • sacrifice - the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim
  • acceptable - pleasing to the receiver
  • spiritual - pertaining to the soul as distinguished from the physical nature
  • service - act of helpful activity
  • worship - assigning worth, laying aside your will for the will of another, reverent honor or homage
So let me expand our verse:

Therefore I forcefully beg you to act, my fellow believers, because of the compassion shown to you when you were an enemy of God (the gospel), to submit your very physical self as a thriving, vigorous, active and set apart offering, surrendered for the purposes of God's glory and will, which is pleasing to Him, because this is your spiritual act of help as a way of assigning worth, laying aside your will and doing His.

Notice the physical act of sacrificial service is the evidence of your spiritual worship.  So when you don't sacrificially serve the Lord, it shows that your spirit is worshipping self, but when you do, it reveals that your spirit is worshipping God…make sense?  

But what happens when we serve with the wrong motives?  We may be able to fool others (horizontal) but we can never fool God (vertical).  God knows our hearts and knows our motivations.  This verse is a call for us to examine ourselves, because as Jeremiah tells us, our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked - they can even fool us!  

So examine your motivation - examine your service. Are you giving to the Lord with expectations or out of devotion, love and gratitude? I asked the women recently at LBS, if the cross was the only thing the Lord ever gave you, would that be enough to live a life of obedience to Him?  Or do we need more?  (a wonderful husband, obedient and brilliant children, good family relationships, a perfect past, a pain-free life, plenty of money, the perfect body shape…)  

Paul's passion was sincere - in light of the gospel, the complete sacrifice of one's total life was reasonable.

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