Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
for if you are living according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
I am such a hypocrite. Daily I see where I want all of the blessings of God without anything being required of me. I want to embrace all of his love and goodness and give Him nothing in return. This actually puts me in the category of being an unbeliever as well. I pick and choose the scriptures I want to live by and ignore those which speak of self sacrifice. Jesus himself challenged anyone who would be a disciple of his to consider the cost:
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
OUCH! As I re-read this passage, I see that I am also a guilty of self-idolatry. I have myself lifted up on a pedestal and become quite indignant if anyone insults my elevated position. Is it any wonder that most days I am miserable? The scripture above from Romans 8 says that if I am living according to my flesh, I will die. That death is not a future event, it’s in the now. I fall on my own sword daily because I have lifted myself up to an ungodly position. A place where you dare not speak to me like that! A place where I am more valuable and worthy than the rabble around me. A place that looks down with scorn on the broken and miserable people that I come in contact with. A place that is full of self-righteous hypocrisy devoid of love for the very world that Jesus came to save.
What is the cost that I work so hard to avoid? What does it mean to hate your own life? What does it mean to present yourself as a living sacrifice?
First, it means repenting of my unbelief. Somewhere along the line, I stopped believing that my life is not my own. If I am a child of God, then I was purchased with the precious blood of Christ. He bought me. His spilled blood and mangled body was the receipt for my life. That is why we are called to remember that transaction thru the sacraments of the cup and bread. “This do in remembrance of me, as often as you will.” We need to take Communion more often to be reminded that our lives are NOT are own. Christ was beaten beyond recognition; he ceased to exist in a sense. He laid down every ounce of his own will to have the right to own us! How dare I exalt myself above my Lord!
Secondly, it means renewing my mind and believing the truth that my life is hidden in Christ. I embrace that my sins are hidden but recoil that my person has to be hidden. I forget that I am a new creature and old things have passed away. Paul exhorts us to put to death the flesh with its deeds. I must embrace the truth of being emptied like Jesus. I must surrender! I must take up my cross and follow him. A cross was meant for one thing only, to die upon.
Thirdly, I must believe the glorious truth that true life comes from this death. Jesus shared this great mystery as recorded in the Gospel of John:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
On my self-exalted pedestal, I am alone and have no kingdom worth. I am tasteless salt that is good for nothing. But, if I die to myself daily, then I have potential to bear much fruit and find eternal life NOW!
“Lord, thank you for your new mercies today. God, change my heart that I will want to die to myself today. I don’t want to be worthless and alone and falling on my own sword. I want to be where you are. I want to follow in your footsteps. I want to present myself to you God and be called a good and faithful servant. Help me remember that you own me and help me love this broken world the way you loved me. Help me empty myself that I might receive you to the full and be truly alive!”