What have you sacrificed today? This is not a question we normally go around asking each other.
Under the Mosaic Covenant, various animals were killed and offered in sacrifice to God on a daily basis. Sometimes these animals were burnt whole but more often parts were burned and the rest cooked and eaten to indicate a person’s fellowship with God. Which brings us back to the question.
What have you sacrificed today? When speaking in modern terms, we often view something we give up as a sacrifice that we make. One definition of a “sacrifice” is “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy” (Oxford Dictionary of English).
Many people this time of year, for sincere religious purposes, give up something to remember Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness just after his baptism. The Bible says nothing about doing things like this to remember this aspect of Jesus’ life, nor does it connect this with Jesus’ death on the cross.
Let’s change the question a little. What is it that God wants us to sacrifice?
Although we might come up with a list of bad habits, attitudes, or actions that are not compatible with being a Christian, we still haven’t arrived at where God wants us to be. Notice what Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV).
Ah, we may be saying, now I get it. We are to present our bodies as our sacrifice to God – not a dead body, but a living sacrifice. If we are truly willing to give up the control of our life to serving God, we will have sacrificed all the parts of our lives that are wrong and will have replaced them with what Jesus’ wants us to be. Paul referred to this as a “transformation.”
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
The word Paul used to describe this transformation is the word we use to describe the process of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly – metamorphosis. When we think about the change the caterpillar makes, we recognise that it is a total change. It cannot hold onto anything from its old life but sacrifices everything to take on a new, beautiful life as a butterfly.
This is what God is calling us to be as Christians. We sacrifice our lives to be transformed into something far better than can be used in God’s service. Notice that this change starts by renewing our mind. We must learn to think differently if we are going to devote our lives to God. To think differently, we must input God’s word into our mind and life so that we can discern or recognise what is good and acceptable and perfect.
So, what have you sacrificed today? You see, with God, it really is all or nothing. He either wants our entire lives as a living sacrifice, or we are not living for him. The choice is ours.
Readings for next week:
28 March – Galatians 1-2
29 March – Galatians 3
30 March – Galatians 4
31 March – Galatians 5
1 April – Galatians 6