There are countless verses in Scripture that I quickly turn to when I need encouragement, strength, and cheer. Then there are other verses that deeply challenge me, verses that, quite honestly, I would sometimes rather skip over because they challenge me at the core of my being.
Romans 12:1 is one of those challenging verses:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?
When Paul pleads with us to give our bodies to God, he doesn’t just mean our physical bodies, although that is part of the sacrifice. He means our entire beings. And that, I will admit, is a hard thing to turn over to God. It means that every part of me, inside and out, every attitude and thought and behavior, belong to Him. My pride. My eating and exercise habits. My television and movie watching habits. My sexual purity. My desire to gossip or slander. My time. My finances. My job. My relationships.
I have heard it said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar. How true. Time after time, I find myself re-dedicating my life to Christ, repositioning myself upon that altar.
Standing on its own, Romans 12:1 is quite an intimidating verse. However, let’s look at it in context with the previous verses:
Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
Perhaps some of my inward struggle to give everything over to God is not fully trusting Him to know what He’s doing with it. But as Paul states, His wisdom and knowledge are far beyond our understanding. When I recall that He knows far better than I do what is best for my life, I am able to relax my feeble grip on my life. My life is much better off on His altar, in His hands, than in mine.
What verse(s) really challenge you?