The Ultimate Expression of Thankfulness
Paul wrote to the Church at Rome, “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.” (Rom. 12:1, NIV)
As we come to the end of the Thanksgiving season, and our series on thankfulness, we to the apex of thankfulness: a life lived for God. That is what Paul says after detailing an extensive list of the wickedness of humanity, their lost and hopeless state, and the wonders of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ (read Romans chapters 1-11).
As we have noted over the past few weeks, we have much for which to be thankful. Just consider the physical blessings many of us enjoy. Then, as God’s children, we enjoy “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3, NIV) What is our response? Thankfulness is, or should be, our constant in this life (1 Thess. 5:18).
However, our lives should be lived in service to God. Like the sacrifices in the Mosaic Law (see Leviticus chapters 1-7), the believer should lay down his life, which includes all his or her possessions and desires for this life, on the altar of God. It is a “living sacrifice,” meaning it is perpetual for the earthly life of the child of God.
A Lifetime of Consuming God’s Word
One aspect of a “living sacrifice” is a lifetime of consuming God’s Word. Paul would write in the following verse, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2, NIV) How does one renew one’s mind? Through the regular reading, meditating, and application of God’s Word. Psalm 1 provides a perfect example of how this process looks. A living sacrifice spends his or her entire life learning from the depthless treasure of God’s Word.
A Lifetime of Gathering Together with God’s People
Another aspect of a “living sacrifice” is to attend God’s Church. Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us that we need to gather together. Part of this involves the mutual edification of every believer as they utilize the gifts God has graciously provided for them (cf. Eph. 4:14-16). A lifetime of sacrifice includes a serious commitment to the body of Christ, the Church. Believers who desire to display thankfulness must gather with God’s people.
A Lifetime of Giving
Paul continues displaying the wonders of a life of sacrifice in Romans 12:3-21, which include giving. Typically, we think of financial resources when we consider giving. While financial resources are a part of giving, it is not all of giving. Paul discusses the many ways in which we can give, summarizing it in this wonderful phrase, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21, NIV)
A Lifetime of Purpose
All of these aspects of a “living sacrifice,” have a purpose. Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 12:1? The purpose of a “living sacrifice” is to be “holy and pleasing to God.” Our lives, when lived as “living sacrifices,” should be aimed at pleasing God. That is, the purpose of our lives, as the ultimate expression of thankfulness to God, should please Him.
As we consider the amazing wonders of God’s grace, but physical and spiritual, what is the ultimate expression of thankfulness to God? By offering our bodies to be living sacrifices to God for His glory.