How to be a living sacrifice

February 28th, 2015

Romans 12:1 NLT says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him”.

Paul urges us as believers in Jesus to be living sacrifices. To give our lives for God’s service. He says that this is an acceptable sacrifice to God and the way we truly worship Him. But how do we go about being a living sacrifice? What are some of the things it entails? If we read through the rest of chapter Romans 12 Paul gives us a few clues. Today I just want to touch on some of the things that jumped out at me as I meditated on this chapter.

Reading – Romans 12:1-21 NLT

1. Renew our mind

Verse 2 -”Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”.

This is a vital first step if we are wanting to live a life in God’s service and be a living sacrifice. We need to line our hearts and minds up with God’s thinking. How do we do this? The primary way is by prayerfully reading, reflecting and meditating on the Bible. As we do this we allow God’s Spirit and God’s Word to enter our minds and sink deep into our hearts. The result of this if we do it diligently over a period of time is the Word makes its way back from our hearts to our minds and changes us forever. “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”.

2. Use our gifts well

Verses 6-8 – “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

Paul tells us to use whatever gift God has given us to the best of our abilities. If it is to prophesy, teach, serve, give, show kindness or encourage we should do the best job we can. As I have shared with you last week. I think part of a leaders role is to help people find and use their God given gifts. Recognise, release, encourage and support. Now it is not always easy to work out what I gifts are. This is where the sacrifice part comes in. There is work is finding, recognising and developing your gifts. I may be an encourager but we have to work at it. I may be a gifted teacher, but I have to work to develop my gift. It can be hard and a sacrifice. Paul also reminds us in verse 8 that we should serve others gladly.

3. Really love each other

Verses 9-10 – “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other”.

Both the NIV and the NLT say this well, but I love the way the NLT puts it “Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them”. That is straight to the point! I remember when our girls were young we put this verse on the fridge. We then had a list of ways we could show we really love someone. It said things like…

  • Pray for them,
  • Do nice things for them
  • Share things with others
  • Listen to them
  • Speak nicely to them
  • Give them a hug
  • Give them a present
  • One even said by giving them chocolate!

We love others in practical ways, by helping when they are in need. This is sometimes a sacrifice. But it is well worth it. Because it means we are living out this life that Jesus calls us to live and being a light unto the world around.

4. Live in harmony with each other

Verses 14-20 – “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. 18Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. 20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

In the next section Paul urges us to live at peace with everyone. The NIV says to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you. I remember years ago I worked with a lady who just didn’t like me. No matter what I did or said she just would not warm up to me. One day I read this verse and it reminded me that no matter how she treats me I had to live at peace with her. In time I emailed her and apologised if I had offended her without knowing. As a result, we were able to talk and the problem was sorted. We had a good working relationship and were able to talk. It really brought home to me that we should try to love and serve others even if they persecute us as Christians. God makes it very clear it is not our place to curse or take revenge. That is a big sacrifice at times and is contrary to a worldly way of thinking.

5. Conquer evil with good

Verse 21 – “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good”

Paul finally finishes this section with a plea to not let evil overcome us, but we need to press on and overcome evil with good deeds. As I once heard it said, “Evil prospers when good people do nothing”. It can be a sacrifice to have an overcoming attitude. It can be hard when fallen down some many times. We need to not grow weary in doing good because the harvest is coming (Galatians 6:9-10 NLT).


As we can see from these things being a living sacrifice is about renewing our mind and then going on to do God’s will for our lives. He wants us to live in peace with those around, to love and serve others, to not take revenge when wronged and to conquer the evil things that take place in this world by doing good. And while we do these things we are to keep our hope, be patient when things are going wrong and keep praying faithfully.