I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
Nicolas Zinzendorf gazed at the painting called “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”). He read the words “I have done this for you; what have you done for me?” and committed his life to Christ and started a great missions movement. Frances Havergal saw the same picture and wrote the words of this hymn:
“I gave my life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave my life for thee,
What hast thou given for me?”
That is the point of Romans 12:1. The sacrifice of Christ calls us to absolute surrender to the Savior.
Consider first, THE REASONS FOR SURRENDER. Although Paul might have spoken with the authority of an Apostle and demanded it, instead he stoops as a beggar and pleads for it. He knew that love cannot be coerced. It must be freely given. This verse marks a transition in the thrust of Paul’s letter. The Apostle has for eleven chapters directed us to the manifold mercies of God. He has spoken of the greatness of God’s grace in saving wretched sinners like we are! We love Him for He first loved us! The Lord is not being unreasonable in demanding we surrender all. Don’t you understand that He surrendered everything to give you eternal life?
Then, we observe THE REQUIREMENTS OF SURRENDER. We yield our entire being, particularly our body as an instrument in God’s hands to accomplish His work in the world. Christ didn’t die only to save our souls, but to redeem the total person. He wants to use your eyes to see hurting humanity, your ears to hear their cries, your heart to care for them, your feet to go to them, your hands to help them, and your lips to tell them why. This is a commitment from which there is no turning back—it is living and ongoing. Constantly we surrender—a thousand times a day when faced with God’s will or our will, we choose to follow Him. “Present” is a definite act—once for all never to turn back, but “living” is a daily attitude.—ongoing in keeping all on the altar. The sacrifices God demanded under the Old Covenant were to be without blemish. They were not acceptable if they were not holy. Repentance from sin is to accompany resignation in sacrifice. The Pharisees brought offerings to God, but motivated by the applause of man. Rather than commend them, Christ condemned them. What is the motive for our surrender? Our service isn’t to be about our glory, but His.